Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mussel feed recipe.

Recipe for a mussel feed by request, thanks to Lodgepole

Mussel feed:
Clean and steam mussels with a half inch of water in the bottom of the steaming pan. Cover and steam until the mussels on the top open. Remove meats, and remove the beard. If the mussels are large, throw out the tough white muscle parts.

Then eat as many as you can eat. Use hot butter and lemon juice for dipping sauce. My wife prefers fresh crushed garlic butter with her mussels. Breads, cheeses, and fruits go good with mussels. And a green salad with tomatoes and avocado works well. White, or red wine, or a good beer, also go good with mussels. If you are an alcoholic, or you can’t drink, you should switch to peanut butter sandwiches because a mussel feed just screams for a good bottle of wine to cut the butter sauce. Invite as many friends as you can. Good friends are the most important part of a Mussel feed. And there should be a least one friend to tell you how icky they look and how they would never eat anything that looks like that, it makes them that much tastier.

Pickled mussels:
Take all of the left-over meats clean them and put then in a bowl.
Make a pickling brine out of left over juice in the bottom of the boiling pot. Taste the juice and if it is too salty add some water until it is acceptable.

For each quart of meat: Leave meat in the bowl, the brine will be poured over it later. Take two cups of juice and add one cup of apple cider vinegar to it. Put it in a pot and start to bring it to a boil, as it is heating add one tablespoon of off-the-shelf pickling spices, like can be bought at any grocery store. Add three bay leaves. Add a half of a small lemon, give it a little squeeze and toss it in the boiling brine. Then add as much crushed red pepper as you feel brave enough to try, but put at least a little bit in because the final product doesn’t seem to be as spicy as you thought it was going to be.

Simmer the pickling brine for forty-five minutes then pour it over the mussel meats. Cover and place in the refrigerator. They will be ready to eat cold the next day. Makes a good hors-d-oevres. I don’t know how long they will last; they don’t last over a week at my house because they get eaten.

My grandmother would have a whole shelf of her pantry filled with picked mussels. She would take us kids to the ocean and we would pick a whole large gunny-sack full and we would bring them home and have a mussel feed, and then can the rest. The kids got stuck with cleaning them, but I didn’t mind. I’ve always loved pickled mussels.


lodgepole said...

Thanks for that info Ernie, that pickled mussel sounds like a good recipe. I've never even heard of pickled mussels, except from you once before, I think. Back in the day when I lived in the super bachelor pad with 3 roommates, we'd go pluck some mussels from the rocks and have a royal feast-kinda like that beautiful picture you posted on your last thread, except instead of those lovely bottles of wine, our table was full of lucky lager and mickey's 40 oz bottles, from days prior most likely. I love a good run on sentence. It's funny how tempting it is to put yourself in serious danger to get the good mussels. The best ones are always "just a little further".

Ernie Branscomb said...

Yep! The further out you get, the bigger they get, and they're cleaner. I always go before the tide, so I know that I can always get back the way I came. I dont like that deep water wading to get back home.

Eric V. Kirk said...

Don't the smaller ones have better flavor? Somebody told me that, but I don't think I've ever eaten the bigger ones.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Eric, the smaller ones are more tender, and they are one-bite size, so that makes them less messy to eat. But I like them all.

We put a large bowl of steaming mussels, in their shells, in the center of the table and everyone cleans their own. The shells get tossed into another large bowl on the table and is understood that eating with your fingers is okay.

Once you get over the “psychology” of what you are eating and just go for the flavor, they make a great and very satisfying feast. It is an excellent food to be eaten with wine. I seldom drink wine, but my first thought when we have mussels is; “where is the wine?”

The sun on the water can cause the poison algae to bloom. The mussels eat the algae in the water and become poison. That is why they are only eaten in the winter. I like to pick my mussels in the dead of winter, so I don’t even have to wonder about poison.

Like with everything potentially dangerous to eat, there is all kinds of superstition surrounding their potential safety. Some people will only eat mussels that they pick under water, others will only eat the ones that are on the outer third of the mussel reef. I asked an Indian friend of mine how the Indian people knew when they were safe to eat, and he told me that his mother always cooked them with a silver dollar in the pot, and she could tell by the color of the dollar whether or not they were safe to eat. The answer was not what I was looking for. The Indians must have had someway of knowing, maybe they just ate them until they started getting sick, then they moved inland to eat salmon, deer, and acorns. Much of their culture has been lost to everyone.

Eric V. Kirk said...

Oh, I love mussels. A bit stronger flavor than clams, but I love pretty much anything that comes out of the ocean. Of course, anything tastes good drenched in garlic butter.

Anonymous said...

fohumictliving on the atlantic coast of Namibia (south western Africa)we've eaten mussels in all variations. I saw on some one's post - the small ones are more tender. Not the case here...I picked a batch of some huge mussels the other day (shells 5-6inches) and my wife surprised me by pickling them - her first time and recipe out of her head. After steaming and cleaning them ( tip - leave mussels in a bowl of fresh water for about 12 hours - add flour to the water as this makes them "spit" out any sand/grit) she bottled them with a combo of white vinegar, sunflour oil,lots of coarsly chopped garlic, dried crushed chillis, sea salt, pickling spices and a generous dash of sweet chilli sauce (we like the sweet sour effect)They should "lie" for at least 24 hours but we cant help indulging after 5 minutes

Sigrid said...

This recipe is great. I'm on batch #2 this season. The first batch was really tasty and a great hit. I had a lot so they lasted in the fridge for weeks. This time I have enough for 2 quarts of pickled mussels. This batch of mussels is from Pacifica, CA south of San Francisco. They were hauled up in a crab net and the people that hauled them up were going to throw them in the garbage (!?!?!). So I took them. The previous batch I picked from Pillar Point (Half Moon Bay) which is over picked by people picking illegally with tools. Very sad. Thanks for your post. Very very helpful.

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