Did you know that Bivalves must stay alive until the time you cook them or you can poison your eaters? True story. I’ve known this since I started liking mussels and clams and usually the fish people remind you as you purchase from the store anyway. The day before supper club, I drove to my favorite place for seafood, Quality Seafood, through a whole lot of traffic because I knew they had a few pounds of mussels with my name on them. Do you already know where this story is headed?
I drove home, unpacked everything for The Neighborhood Table, shoved the fridge full, and went about my merry business. At about 3am Sunday morning I awoke and panicked. I raced down stairs remembering suddenly and vaguely that I had shut the bag over the mussels. I raced down to see that yes, the bag was shut. I waited until 7am to call my sister and ask how exactly I could tell if I had suffocated them and what could I do. “Pinch the shell. If it closes, they’re still alive. If they don’t move. They’re dead. Throw them out. There’s no hope.”
I had killed them: 4 precious pounds of them. Fortunately, at Quality Seafood they were pretty cheap. Unfortunately, they are closed on Sundays. I called Central Market and they told me they had exactly 3 pounds left. They were also 3 times the price. Screw it. I had already planned everything. I asked them to set the bag aside, save them all for me and I’d be there in a jiffy. I ran down there and told the seafood guy all about my race to save the mussels at 3am. He felt bad for me. So bad for me, that he asked for the bag back and reprinted the label to read a fraction of the price. I felt a lot better about killing the poor mussels and having to trek back to the market. Turns out 3 pounds was exactly the right amount anyway. Enjoy this recipe, it’s fantastic, simple, and cost efficient if you don’t kill the mussels the first go-round.
I followed this recipe pretty much exactly as Ana Sortun of Spice, outlines it. So I shan’t be posting the actual recipe (I get confused about what I can and cannot post even though I always give full credit to the originator). When not following a recipe, I generally do a similar version with steaming the mussels or clams in white wine (sometimes a tomato base, but this one is simpler and highlights the seafood flavor more), leeks, garlic, parsley, and paprika. Yea, pretty simple. Pretty basic. And oh so enjoyable. And of course, naturally gluten and dairy free.