Saturday, December 11, 2010


Last night I cooked. Yes, cooked. Assembled ingredients, chopped ingredients into little pieces (I hear that it's called mincing), scrubbed ingredients, melted butter, and cooked them all up into a rather large amount of mussels with a butter sauce. Oh, and I peeled a tomato. J did suggest that we didn't need three pounds of mussels, but I insisted. We didn't need three pounds of mussels--two would have done fine.

I don't cook. Ever. I am not a good cook and J is a very good cook, so I set the table and, mostly, do the dishes. I do have a few dishes though, and one of them is mussels. When we lived in the Bay Area, I regularly acquired clams (when we were flush) and mussels (when we weren't) from, first, the fish market at 19th and Mission, where the clams and mussels were still in water, and then from the fish market in Oakland's Montclair district. In those days mussels were about half the price of clams, so it was a good, cheap feed. Now mussels and clams are the same price, so it's a matter of whim.

I have a really easy recipe, so here goes:

Two pounds of mussels or clams
1/8 to 1/4 lb of butter
medium onion
4-6 cloves of garlic
fresh parsley
medium tomato
white wine
good bread

Mussels or clams should be rushed home from the store, placed in a kettle of water covering them, and put in the fridge until prep time. (When we lived in San Francisco, the fishmonger would put the clams or mussels in a plastic bag filled with water. I would then transport them home on BART.)

Scrub the mussels or clams with a brush. Almost all are farmed now, so they're much cleaner than in the past, but you don't want grit in the sauce. Place them in clean water and set aside.

Place the tomato in a saucepan filled with water and heat to loosen the skin.

Mince the onions and garlic and set aside.

Do the same with the parsley.

Skin the tomato, cut out the core and cut into chunks.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Have husband set the table, make the salad and slice the bread.

Do all of this before cooking, as the cooking is over in about 20 minutes.

Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions and garlic, and cook slowly until the onions are soft and just starting to brown. Do not burn. Add the tomato and cook to soften until it's mush and dissolves into the butter mixture. Add the parsley and continue heating. Dump the mussels or clams into the pot and cook until all are opened, about 10 minutes. Shake the pan every 2-3 minutes.

Remove the mollusks from the broth with a slotted spoon, place in the serving bowl and put the bowl in the oven.

Boil the cooking liquid to reduce and thicken. The butter is important here, as it is what makes the sauce thick and suitable for bread-dunking. Pour the sauce into cups suitable for dunking and move the mussels from the oven to the table.

Update: The wine should be added just before the mollusks, about 1/2-3/4 of a cup. And J suggests that, if you want a less salty broth, change the water in which you're keeping said mollusks several times. The liquid they release on cooking will be less salty.

And the mussels (the best we've found in Sacramento) were from Oto's on Freeport Blvd.

1 comment:

annot8 said...

Clever disguise, hiding behind that "I can't cook" posture! Sounds yummy and easy.