On Friday I did something I very much enjoy: cooking a semi-extravagant meal. The occasion was belatedly for our anniversary, and the meal needed to match a good bottle of Italian wine. So for our main course we had beef with a port sauce. (You’ll notice if you view it that the recipe says beef tenderloin. Well, thanks to my lack of vocabulary, unfruitful and frustrating visit to a local butcher, and despite my final aid by a clerk at the natuurwinkel (natural foods store), I could not summon a tenderloin, and had to rely on a “similar cut.” It didn’t work out quite right. But I digress…)
For an appetizer, we had Broiled Mussels with Hot Paprika Crumbs. Fresh seafood is popular and available here, and we’ve seen pots of steamed mussels sitting outside cafes as an enticement. I’m not a mussels newbie. The first time I prepared them, I was definitely concerned about poisoning myself and/or Tim. Their innards are so bizarre; what do you mean “debearding”?; how do you know if you have a “bad” one?... (I feel that way any time I prepare a meat or fish I’m not familiar with.) But several instances later, mussels are manageable and quite tasty.
I bought a large sack of mussels (E.3.95) from the old Delft fish market, de Visbanken, and the man assured me that I would need twice as much—this seemed highly unlikely.
At home, I scrubbed the mussels and was surprised by how good they looked. For mussels, I mean. I realized that I’d been getting pretty crappy mussels from Stop and Shop back home (I know, what did I expect…); I was accustomed to throwing out a third of them because they’d be already open, damaged, or otherwise suspect. After cleaning these guys I got them steaming in some white wine, which is about when things start to smell fantastic.
Here’s the recipe if you’re interested; Food and Wine gives good instructions on how to work with mussels. You’ll notice that their illustration shows each mussel with a tasteful dollop of topping, and mine are basically smothered by it. It’s that good. And the recipe makes a ton of the topping, anyway.
Other people cooking mussels:
Bethany, of Up and Out.