Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Welcome to Spring.

The yellow sticker on the pack read "Sshhh! They're sleeping".

After mechanical debearding, Tasmanian Spring Bay mussels are shrink-wrapped into a kind of plastic oxygen chamber where they slumber blissfully for 'up to nine days', according to the pack.

Certainly, they were very quiet. I wondered whether they were not in an induced coma rather than merely sleeping. I placed them very carefully into the pot of boiling fluid. What if one were to wake up seconds before being boiled to death?

The fluid comprised a cup of white wine, a little olive oil, an onion, five chopped garlic cloves, and a chili - all finely chopped - and some ground pepper. The mussels were cooked in two minutes. Then a shower of chopped parsley and away you go. See how high you can stack up the shells in a side dish without letting them clatter to the table. It's an art.


The best part of this dish, besides the fat, briney, orange mussels, is mopping up the garlic-infused fluid with good bread. I used the last of the Dench sourdough.


Mussels in white wine and garlic is my traditional welcome-to-Spring dish. I haven't decided if shrink-wrapped Tasmanian mussels are better than the local Portarlington or Shoreham ones. Any other opinions? The Tasmanian ones seemed more uniform in size and had fewer irregularities and marks on the shells than the local ones. They are ideal for those who don't want the work involved in debearding mussels but it has never bothered me.


My funniest mussel memory: our late Britanny, Goldie, eating leftover mussels and spitting out bits of shell.


breadchick said...

So you have cooked your "welcome Spring" dinner and tonight I will cook my "welcome Fall" dinner of slow cooked pot roast and root veg.

Welcome my two favourite seasons, just on opposite ends of the world!

Anne said...

and I am concocting "welcome Fall" chicken soup!

neil said...

Even if one mussel haplessly awakes, it can't be as bad as the time Keith Floyd pan fried some very wakeful dublin bay prawns, saying "Don't complain, that's how they do it" while they squirmed and writhed in the pan. Debearded and sexed, how did you manage to get all girl(orange) mussels? The best mussels I've ever had were from Tassie, plump and meaty, don't recall where exactly they were from, but they were a couple of dollars a kilo more than local ones.

kitchen hand said...

Breadchick and Anne, some cold days still to come: pot roast and chicken soup may yet be on the table here!

Not sure, Neil. I thought it was a co-ed mussel farm!

jo said...

Yet again, here we are...opposite sides of the globe, me welcoming fall, brisk rain, potential fires and stews and braises and you considering light and quick ad grilling.
They sound delightful!

lesley said...

Portarlington Mussels get my vote. I do the wine and garlic soupy thing, but also add a bottle of home preserved tomato sauce. Perfect with great bread. Love it.