If you are out to impress with your table manners, don’t serve mussels in the shell. To really enjoy every drop of deliciousness, you must pick them up in your fingers and slurp!
|Tangy Mussel Soup, Asian style|
A bag of frozen New Zealand green-lipped mussels in the shell is a great standby to keep in the freezer. To thaw, tip them into the sink (empty) and leave for 15 minutes. Then remove any visible hairy beards by pulling firmly with your fingers. There is no need to rinse frozen mussels – you will just wash away flavour. Fresh mussels, however, need to be immersed in water to remove sand.
- To keep mussel meat tender, do not overcook - 60 seconds max, whether steaming, simmering or barbecuing.
- If feeling fainthearted about shells, use fresh or frozen mussel meat (though it is not nearly as much fun).
|raw mussels, thawed and de-bearded|
TANGY MUSSEL SOUP – Asian style with lime, chilli and fresh crisp vegetables (top photo)
A clear soup to serve over steamed rice or your favourite noodles. Excellent with bean thread or rice vermicelli.
Time: Five minutes preparation to cut vegetables; 10 minutes cooking.
You will need: Medium saucepan with lid; cutting board and sharp knife; lemon squeezer.
Small onion, peeled and chopped as for stir-fry (in strips, not diced)
medium carrot, cut into thin strips
handful of green vegetable (zucchini, beans, broccoli stem), cut into thin strips
2 cm piece fresh young ginger root, cut into strips
green leafy herbs to taste - could be Thai basil, sweet basil, coriander, Vietnamese mint
small red chilli, finely sliced
juice of 1 lime or small lemon, or 40 ml rice wine vinegar
¼ tsp salt or 20 ml fish sauce
1½ cups (350 ml) water
splash cooking oil
≈ 1 kg NZ green-lipped mussels in the shell, with beards removed.
** Before beginning the soup, put rice on to steam, or prepare noodles.
1. In wide saucepan over medium heat, lightly fry onion in splash oil until transparent but not coloured.
2. Add all other ingredients except mussels (keep aside a few greens and chilli pieces for garnish), and bring pot to vigorous boil.
3. Drop all mussels in; shake pot to settle them into the liquid. When stock comes back up to the boil again, turn off the heat, put lid on pot and let sit on the stove for 5 minutes undisturbed.
4. Place prepared rice or noodles in base of deep bowls, and serve soup steaming hot on top.
WHOLE MUSSELS IN DRY SOUP – Spanish style
Cut vegetables into pea-sided cubes rather than in Asian-style slivers, and use couscous or pre-cooked short-grain rice as the carbohydrate base.
Time: 5 minutes preparation; 10 minutes cooking
You will need: medium saucepan with lid; cutting board and knife; juicer
small onion, peeled and diced
≈ 1 cup diced fresh very ripe red tomato (or canned diced tomato)
medium carrot, cut into small cubes
green vegetable (zucchini, beans, broccoli stem), cut into small cubes
handful sweet basil and/or flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
small red chilli
juice 1 lime or small lemon
¼ tsp salt
1 cup (240 ml) water
splash cooking oil
≈1 kg NZ green-lipped mussels in the shell, with beards removed
Optional: ½ cup small whole olives, or 2 teaspoons diced capers (and omit salt from recipe).
** If using rice, cook before preparing soup. There is no pre-prep needed if using couscous.
1. In saucepan over medium heat, cook onion and fresh tomato in a little oil until onion is transparent and tomato mushy - about 5 minutes. If using canned tomato, cook onion first, then add tomato and cook hard for 1 more minute.
2. Add all other ingredients except mussels. Bring to the boil. Simmer 1 minute only.
3. Add mussels and shake pot to settle them into stock (doesn’t matter if not completely covered). Bring pot back to a hard boil.
4. Immediately stir in ½ cup dry couscous, or 1 cup cooked rice. Bring pot to the boil again.
5. Remove pot from the heat. Cover with lid and sit for another 5 minutes before serving.
MUSSEL MEAT in DRY RICE SOUP
Prepare as above, using the meat of 10 or 12 mussels, fresh or frozen.
Serve with shaved hard cheese.
This recipe is also a great way to cook white-fleshed fish such as cod, snapper or hoki. Cut fish into 3cm strips and add in Step 3.
FROGBLOG TIP – Plant rocket!
- Homegrown ‘wild’ rocket is a great thing to plant in the garden as the weather warms up. It is fast-growing, usually pest free and is a great addition to salads, sandwiches, stir fry and as a substitute in any recipe that calls for basil and/flat-leaf parsley.
- Add in other salad greens and herbs that enjoy similar conditions – lots of sunshine, lots of water and a nitrogen-rich drink now and then to help with leaf production. In the tiny garden shown above (less than 3 feet square) are young plantings of parsley, rainbow silver beet, coriander, sweet basil, rocket in the middle, and shallots in front.
- If you haven’t got a garden, a pot will do. But don’t waste the space, add in other herbs (with rocket in the salad pot, shown, are bunching shallot, curly parsley and silver beet).
Next: Rocket pesto crusted fish with sweet potato chips