2 lbs. of live mussels are $3 at our local Korean grocery, and that’s just too cheap not to take advantage of. Most of the recipes we’ve found have been very bland and tasteless, so I went looking for something with some flavor to make for our holiday party. After some experimentation and testing, here’s a home-brewed recipe for steamed mussels which has great flavor and tasty broth:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 cups of white wine
- 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped basil
- 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
- 6-8 chopped vine tomatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 shallots, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 4 lbs. mussels, scrubbed and cleaned (use a vegetable scrubber; clean off any of the “beard”-the stringy stuff that may be still attached to the shell. Cut or pull that off.) Dump any with broken shells or that don’t close when they’re run under water or tapped with a fingernail.
In a big lobster pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, peppers and shallots and stir until the onion is cooked, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil and pepper flakes. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the wine and put a steamer into the pot, and add the mussels, discarding any that don’t clamp shut when tapped. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook them for 3-5 minutes, making sure you toss the mussels so that they all get steamed, and remove once they’ve all opened (throw out the ones that aren’t open.)
Here’s the tricky part: Move the mussels into a holding bowl, and scoop out as much of the tomato mixture as you can into a serving bowl, until there’s just broth left in the bottom of the pot. Put the mussels in the serving bowl over the tomato mixture, then pour the broth over the mussels so they get a nice warm bath. Serve immediately, with some good Italian bread for dipping. (Alternatively, I just put the mussels into one bowl and dumped the tomato broth over them, and had to toss them to get the tomato to mix evenly—it’s really your call.) Have a few empty bowls on hand for discarded shells.
Make sure your guests who are unfamiliar with shellfish know not to eat any mussels that haven’t opened or that aren’t cooked completely! You’ll probably miss one or two of these.
I’d guess you could add a little more butter and white wine for a looser broth—better for dipping with bread. Serve with some good red wine and plenty of napkins. This recipe was enough for 6-8 people, in our experience.