I have been asked how to cook something impressive and delicious but less time intensive than my usual Start-This-Recipe-The-Night-Before recipes. So here it is – the fastest thing I can cook (from scratch) is Moules Marinieres, which seriously takes less than 10 minutes in total including the prep work and cooking. However any cooking time saved is spent looking for parking at the Sydney Fish Markets in order to get the mussels. You can get decent mussels at most local fish shops but the Fish Markets have literally every kind of seafood imaginable and it’s all super fresh out of the sea. And also I like to browse and touch and poke and smell the goods as though I’m shopping for a new YSL bag.
This dish is real fast food and is made from all unprocessed ingredients (if this is something that concerns you but it probably doesn’t if you’re reading this blog). It’s fresh and light, with the flavour of the ocean combined with the most delightful sauce that practically makes itself. Do as the Belgians do and serve this with hot french fries or even some crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce. It’s not traditional, but I’ve added fresh chilli for a kick and a spoonful or two of cream to add body to the sauce for some extra luxuriousness. There’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of when it comes to shellfish as long as it’s fresh – and the rule of thumb is that any mussels which haven’t opened during cooking should be thrown away. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you’ll come across a mussel that was eating a baby crab, and if you do you should buy yourself a lottery ticket. It’s the Asian version of a four leaf clover. Ok, I made up that last part.
Not everyone likes mussels, especially people who unlike me, didn’t grow up eating them. They should get over it and try them without prejudice because mussels really are delicious little things. A quick poll of my office and the reasons why some people don’t like them were: weird texture, too fishy/salty in flavour, looking too alien, and looking too much like tiny vaginas. All valid points, although it’s highly possible that the person with the vagina issue has never even been with a woman before which explains everything.
Mussels are inexpensive as well as being healthy, so if you’re a tight-ass who also wants a tight ass, then consider cooking up some tonight.
MOULES MARINIERES (serves 2)
1kg mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1 onion (or 2 shallots), diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
150ml white wine (or cider can also be used)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 small red chilli, chopped
3 tablespoons pouring cream
Small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
Heat butter in a large pan and saute the onion, garlic, chilli, thyme and bay leaf until soft. Turn up the heat and add the wine, cook for a minute. Add the mussels, give it a quick stir and place the lid on the pan. Give the pan a shake after 2 minutes and check that the mussels have opened. They are ready as soon as the mussels have opened; be careful not to overcook and the mussels will shrink and become rubbery. Add the cream and stir through. Scatter parsley over the mussels. Serve immediately with fries or crusty french bread.