Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mussels: Moules marinière

These must be God's fast food, or fast food of the gods. Out behind the Gran' Place in Brussels, there are bunches of these moules joints, jammed full of locals at lunch (I was there in February). They bring these steaming crocks and tons of bread. And you just dig in and get good and messy, and then mop up the juice with the bread. The frites are the best in the world there, but they barely rate an afterthought compared to those black bivalves.

I was just amazed, years ago, when I first cooked them. They were cheap, I recall. I filled up a big pot, put in maybe a half cup of white wine i had left, steamed them up, and they pushed the lid off, like popcorn. There was just so much of their own liquor they drool out when they open! It mingled with the wine (or whatever) and made it better than the finest fancy fish fumet to me .

Serves 4 as a first course. [MAFC I 226 FC10M 75-76]
  • Two quarts of mussels, well washed and scribbed (have the market do this!)
  • 1 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons scallion white, chopped finely.
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • bay leaf
  1. In a four quart pot or fait-tout over high heat (ideally with a clear glass lid), heat all the ingredients, covered, except the mussels. Salt and pepper.
  2. Add the mussels and cover. Steam for four minutes or until they are almost all open.
  3. Divide them and the liquor into bowls. Serve very hot, garnished with chopped parsley.

Check out the full panoramic photo above from Wiki Commons, GNU Copyright. Click it, and when it opens, click again. Gran' Place looks just like that at night.

Smoked salmon roses, ol' fashion': Saumon fumé rosette

I like these little roses because the color is so beautiful. The color is, well, salmon.

4 ounces Scottish style, thin sliced smoked salmon
Dill or parsley sprigs.
Extra virgin olive oil or walnut or almond oil
Rose or mixed peppercorns in a grinder
[optional: and capers]

  1. If necessary (and it usually isn't) cut the salmon into long strips.
  2. Starting at one end, roll the strips into a rose shape, by rolling one side more tightly than the other.
  3. Drizzle with oil and garnish with herbs and [optional] capers.