May 21st, 2008
Steamed shellfish are one of my favorite ways to entertain guests. It is a true delicacy that any home cook can easily prepare and execute, and do so at a very reasonable price.
To celebrate the completion of our gardening project, we made some steamed mussels last night. The beer drinker that I am, I prefer my mussels steamed in beer over the more traditional mussels in white wine broth. Steamed clams are a different story entirely, but I will save that for another post.
The black gold of the ocean, mussels are high in protein, low in fat, and when compared to beef low in calories as well. They are also rich in calcium, iron and vitamins C and B12. Not to mention the fact that they pack plenty of essential Omega-3 fatty acids known to help reduce the risk for heart disease. One serving of mussels (quarter of a pound of meat) contains 25 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat, 7.4 grams of carbohydrates and a whopping 172 calories. One pound of mussels per person is what I typically serve up for a main course dish.
As with any shellfish (clams, oysters and the like), mussels must be cooked while they are still alive. Smell them before purchase, they should smell like the ocean and should not have any major odor. Soak the mussels in cool fresh water for 20-30 minutes before cooking and the scrub the mussels under running water with your hands, or a brush to remove sand, kelp, barnacles, or other attachments. If you find a bearded mussels, give the beard a nice tug with your hand or use kitchen scissors and it should come right off. Discard mussels that are broken, cracked, chipped or not tightly closed.
Steamed Mussels Recipe for Two
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small shallots, minced
12 oz bottle of beer of your choice - Lager is the way to go. Nothing too hoppy :)
2 lbs mussels
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves and stems, finely minced
Fresh ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated
- Heat large pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil and melt the butter. Add shallots; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
- Add mussels to the pot, and pour in the lager. Close lid and let mussels steam over medium heat until shells are open and the mussels turn opaque, 5~6 minutes. Make sure to shake the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking.
- Remove the mussels and place in a serving dish. Let the broth rest a few minutes allowing any remaining sand to settle to the bottom of the pan. Carefully pour out the broth using a ladle, avoiding the bottom.
- Top with cilantro leaves, black pepper, and a nice squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese to finish off. Serve hot with crusty bread to mop up the juices!
What is your favorite steamed shellfish dish? Share us your delicious story.