Happened upon some Conwy mussels today, in fact they were delivered to the front door by Llandudno’s Mermaid along with a bunch of other seafood goodies. One of the many things we have learned during lock-down is the Mermaid does free deliveries to Bethesda for orders of over £20.00 and, given the price of cod, this is not hard to achieve. In our ignorance before Covid it took us a large chunk of the day, an hour and a half each way on buses and a 15 minute walk down the most boring road in the world – it’s even called Builder Street – to stock up on fish. Post pandemic I think we might just stick with the phone …
In recent times we have become used to Menai mussels which are fairly small and uniform in size and arrive in a neat net with a label stating with the appropriate dates. I go through the motions of washing and cleaning, but they are so thoroughly processed that there’s nothing really left to prepare. So it was like going back 20 years opening an anonymous polybag and tipping the contents into a bowl of water. There was a whole variety of sizes from minute to scarily big, covered in barnacles and held together by intermeshed beards. So I set to with an old knife and really it was only 10 minutes work to get them sorted.
Moules Poulette comes from a great little French seafood book Cuisiner Les Coquillages which set me back a whole 5 euros a lot of years ago. There are more than 20 recipes for mussels alone and Poulette is my current fave.
For a kilo of mussels I used:
A small onion finely chopped
A good slosh of white wine
2 Egg yolks
About 100g Creme Fraiche
Juice of a Lemon
About a dessert spoon and a half of flour
Turn on the oven to 60C
Melt some butter in a large pan and saute the onon gently.
Turn up the heat high and add the wine and black pepper.
Add the mussels, cover and shake the pan for a couple of minutes. Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon as they open.
Strain and retain the cooking juices.
Remove one half of each shell and place the the other halves (the ones containing the mussel, dummy) in a single layer in a wide dish. (If you play your cards right you could use the original cooking pan!) Cover and place in the oven to keep warm.
Whisk the egg yolks into the cream
Melt about a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan
Stir in the flour
Stir in the the cooking juices, the cream/yolk mixture followed by the lemon juice
Stir while it thickens and add salt and pepper to taste
Spoon the sauce over the mussels, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
I’ve got to say, these mussels were fabulous. They might not have looked very appetising straight out of the bag but cooked, they were plump and delicious.
Is there a difference between frites and chips? I dunno but I reckon frites should be pretty skinny, triple fried (goes without saying), and they MUST be tossed in parsley, garlic and sea salt before serving.