The bags gave it away: the weekly shop has loads of fish. Apparently we’ve been eating too much meat. Fine by me.
First off then the mussels. Not from the Menai Straits here in Wales where 50% of the UK’s mussles are landed, no these were from West Scotland, via Morrisons, a pretty unusual supermarket choice for us.
So one chopped leek, a handful of spring onions, a lump of fennel all chopped and sweated in a bit of olive oil. Half a bottle of white wine, some chopped parsley, seasonings and a ten minute bubble in our largest saucepan (a Robert Welch steamer without the steamer bit).
Whilst that looks after itself, the scraping and de-bearding of the mussels – boring but not a culinary challenge, but I bet that’s what puts people off. And we had two bags – one never seems enough and the two were going to make us fuller than full and leave some for a salad tomorrow.
They seemed very fine, few broken or open ones (bin these) and were soon ready to cook. I have to admit that the other half of Belgium’s national dish (the chips) were a low fat, skins on , oven cook variety that promised lots of flavour and few calories … well you can’t have everything.
In with the mussels, on with the lid. Wait. A big stir – there was a ton of the beasts – and a bit longer. Then, when they were all opened they were piled high in deep bowls, with a large plastic mixing bowl for the debris.
Not neat or decorous eating, you have to get in there with the shell you use as a clamp for the next tasty mollusc extracted from its shell. Of course, some people hate them and assume that you’ll die from poisoning instantly.
For us, the first of our fishy suppers: quick, inexpensive and a dish quite without equal. The chips? Ok, ish.