This is a spin on the classic recipe for French steamed mussels—you know, the big bowl of mussels bathed in white wine, butter, and garlic.
This dish exudes a certain exoticness and it works for a casual dinner party. It's both easy and quick, but like all such recipes, the quality of the ingredients matters a lot.
Buy the best mussels and good, sweet butter and use a white wine you'd drink yourself. Figure on 1 pound of mussels per person for the main course.
- 2 pounds mussels (live)
- 1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)
- 2 green onions (chopped or 1 chopped shallot)
- 2 green garlic shoots (chopped or 2 cloves chopped garlic)
- 3/4 cup white wine
- Optional: crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- Scrub and debeard the mussels. The "beard" is the fibrous hairy thing hanging from one side of the tasty bivalve. Pull it off with a side-to-side motion.
- In case you are wondering, a mussel is alive if it reacts. Its shell should be closed. If it is open, set the mussel on the kitchen counter for a bit. It may close when you are not looking. If it doesn't open, discard it.
- Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a large, wide-bottomed pot with a lid like a Dutch oven. Sauté the green onions or onion until soft but not browned.
- Add the garlic cloves if you are using them; if you are using the green garlic shoots, leave them out for now.
- Add the white wine—like a Chenin Blanc or something crisp but any decent white wine will work—and bring it to a boil. Add the mussels in one layer if possible.
- Cover the pot and let the mussels steam for 3 to 8 minutes. After 3 minutes, check the mussels; many should be open. You want them all open, but some will do this faster than others.
- As soon as most of the mussels are open, turn off the heat and toss in the green garlic if that's your garlic choice. If you want a little more heat, add optional crushed red pepper flakes, as desired. Cover for a minute while you prepare bowls and plates.
- Spoon out plenty of mussels and broth, which should be briny enough to not need any more salt. Throw out any mussels that did not open.
- Serve with crusty bread, more white wine (a good choice is the one you used to cook with) and don't forget an extra bowl for the shells.