Friday, September 16, 2011

Something fishy

I've never been much in the habit of cooking with fish, so it's probably not surprising that I've cooked far more chicken and meat recipes than fish ones. In the interests of covering the recipes as evenly as possible, however, I'm needing to catch up a little.

I'd shyed away from cooking recipes involving live mussels, as it's something I've never really done before. Still, they have to be done sometime, so I decided to take on mussels in tomato sauce (p116) for dinner this evening.

The recipe is for 36 mussels: far more than I can eat by myself, so I bought only one dozen. Or I intended to buy a dozen, but I must have miscounted, as I found I only had 10 when I got them home. It's probably for the best, though - 10 ended up being more than enough.

I'm not sure why I'd put off doing this recipe for so long, because it was very easy. The most difficult part was cleaning and debearding the mussels, and after that it was plain sailing. You start by putting onion in a frypan with some water, and bringing it to the boil. When the water's boiling, add the mussels, cover and cook for 8 minutes.

That's the mussels cooked - just the sauce to do. Removing the mussels from the pan, I arranged them on a plate in the half-shell. Reserving some of the cooking liquid, I cleaned out the pan and started fresh with butter, more onion (though actually I was substituting shallots, as the onions at Pak N Save today were seriously dodgy-looking) and some garlic.

When the garlic and onion were cooked, I added some flour and stirred it through it "until frothy" before gradually pouring in the reserved cooking liquid and the tomato puree. In a very short time, I was spooning sauce over my mussels and garnishing them with parsley.

I'm not a huge fan of mussels in general, but I have to admit that freshly-cooked ones are a lot more tender and pleasanter to eat than the rubbery marinated ones I've had before. The tomato sauce is quite strongly-flavoured, so if you prefer to savour the taste of the mussel itself, you might find it a bit overpowering. For those like myself who are shellfish tolerators rather than shellfish lovers, it's actually ideal.

Just be careful how you eat them. It can be a bit tricky to get them on the fork, and if they slip out of your grasp they'll make a mess of your carpet. Trust me on this!

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