Clams and mussels, they’re all the rave in barrio chino (chinatown) right now.
And the prices are too good to pass up. Personally, I prefer oysters & crawfish when it comes to shellfish but the boyfriend and his brother (whom I live with) happen to think differently. That’s doable, I guess.
While shopping for crabs and shrimp for NOLA’s gumbo I spot the $12 kilo MEJILLONES sign. Instantly steamed mussels over linguini comes to mind and I grab a bag and start digging.
Whenever picking out mussels you want to look for- no broken shells, beards intact, and they should be fully closed and feel heavy not hollow. Once home immediately place them in a bowl and lay a cold wet towel over them. Don’t leave them in a bag to suffocate!
30 minutes before cooking I like to submerge them in cool water which seems to remove their sandy grit. YOU MUST REMOVE THE BEARDS. Which a) is fabulous that mussels have beards, especially when they’re dreaded aka have stones stuck in them (!!) and b) can be deadly if they’re not removed properly. With the mussel in one hair and a pairing knife in the other, grab the beard and with the knife pull it towards the hinge end of the mussel. Discard beard. If the mussels are funky on the outside you can grab a coarse brush and give them a quick rub down. Place de-bearded mussels in a bowl with clean water and gather your ingredients.
Shallots are ideal, but onions can be substituted. Parsley is a must as is a dry white wine. Lemon and garlic, just do it!!!
You want to prep everything before you start cooking as this recipe goes fast. One perk about that, you’re not stuck in the kitchen slaving away while everyone drinks the good wine. One disadvantage is that you can’t do this meal in advance, it must be in the moment!!
Steamed mussels over linguini ::
- 2 dozen mussels, cleaned & de-bearded
- 2-3 shallots, or 2 onion small diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- bunch of parsley, leaves only finely minced
- 1 juicy lemon
- half a bottle of dry white wine
- 4 TBS butter, divided to 2 and 2
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
Get salted water going to cook pasta. Cook linguini, drain, and place in bowl with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.
In a deep saute pan add 2 TBS of butter and a big dash of olive oil, shake the pan to mix together. Add shallots or onion and cook til translucent. Toss in garlic, a pinch of salt and cook til garlic is aromatic. Add wine and deglaze by using a wooden spoon and scraping off any sucs at the bottom of the pan. Reduce wine by a third, add mussels, and cover pan with lid.
Mussels don’t need much time, literally like 3-5 minutes! As soon as those bad boys open up start individually removing them with a pair of tongs. If any of them don’t open, discard into trash bin. Once all the mussels have opened add remaining butter into wine sauce along with lemon juice, salt & pepper. Toss in half the parsley mix well and pour over pasta. Add mussels and remaining parsley. Serve immediately.
*You can do the same recipe with clams instead of mussels if you so desire! I like serving toasty garlic bread on the side in order to soak up all that tasty sauce.