October 17, 2010

mussels in season

mussels, never used to like them; couldn t look at them, couldn t smell them, couldn t eat them

until two years ago, when Sam told me to at least try just one... "look at it, it s like a tiny tiny little chicken!" (wha...???) but i popped one in my mouth, and maybe it was the flavor of the liquor, the taste of the mustard sauce that they always give with the mussels (at least they do here in Antwerp, it s a regional thing) the fact that it didn t smell off at all, so the cook must have done a good job, or just the fact that i d grown up... i loved it!

since then i can t wait for the mussel season to start! which used to be from september to april (all the months with an 'r' in them), but these days it kicks off from about the third week of july... still, i d rather wait till september when the waters are colder and that just makes for better and sweeter mussels

yesterday we had our little mussels in the simplest, tried and tested, authentic Belgian version, just with some onions, celery and a dash of white wine... most people would go classic and just have that with crusty bread, but a lot of us like it with some French fries (i don t know why i have to call them French... allow me to be patriotic and say they re actually Belgian, but anyways...)

here s the recipe:

per person:

about 1 to 1.3 kilos fresh mussels, well cleaned
half an onion, sliced
one stick of celery, roughly chopped
a little knob of butter
lots of ground black pepper
NO SALT (there s enough in the juice of the mussels)
a splash of white wine

steam all the ingredients, except the mussels, in a special mussel pot (i do think they only sell them here in Belgium, or perhaps in the Netherlands too, otherwise a deep pot with a lid will do) for about 5 minutes
add the mussels and cook on high for another 3-7 minutes until all the mussels have opened, shaking the pot once in a while
serve with bread or French fries and some mustard dipping sauce

(for the sauce i just mix some mayo with mustard and yoghurt or sour cream to make a slighly runny sauce... taste, it should be a little acidic, you ll know what i mean when you try it with the mussels)

ps. when cleaning the mussels, discard any that don t close... once cooked, discard any that haven t opened!

SMAKELIJK!!! (that s bon appetit in Dutch)

OH, i almost forgot, the remaining stock in the bottom of the pan, there usually is a lot, is PERFECT as a base for leek soup, or fish stew, or...

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