I stink at shooting mussels. They are now officially on my list of foods that I don’t like taking photos of. I never realised it until now but I am embarrassingly clueless about how to make mussels with their black shells and creepy innards look good. Plus there’s definitely an art to arranging mussels gracefully to which I failed horribly (I’m all for the dump-in-bowl method!).
So they may be photogenically challenged under my hands but at least they tasted awesome. But then again, how can it not when you’re pairing one of my favourite seafoods with my favourite cooking booze and my favourite vegetable? But for the love of all that holy, please please do not skip the anchovies. I realise it’s a polarising ingredient and that people who eats them straight from the jar and piles them high on pizzas, are a rare breed (oh gawd how I love these salty fishies!). But anchovies are absolutely brilliant in cooking with their strong umami flavour and they give dishes that extra special savoury punch with none of their stinky fishy taste. But if you must, feel free to reduce or skip it entirely. Just don’t forget the crusty bread to mop up the remainder of the slurp-worthy sauce. It’s far more classier this way then drinking it from the bowl.
- 1.5kg fresh black mussels
- 1 large leek
- 1 Tbl olive oil
- 1 Tbl unsalted butter
- 2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2-3 large anchovies (from the jar, drained on paper towel)
- 200ml dry sherry (eg. Amontillado)
- 250ml thickened cream (or double cream)
- 1 small bunch of chives, chopped
- Clean, scrub and pull any beards off the mussels and leave to strain in a colander. Wash the leek, then slice in half lengthways then chop into 1cm slices.
- Heat up a wok or large pan with the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté leek, garlic and anchovies for about 10 minutes or until vegetables have softened and anchovies have dissolved and broken down into the oil.
- Add the sherry and cook for a minute and then add in the cream. Dump in the mussels (along with any brine), give it a quick toss. Stick the lid on and cook mussels for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the shells have opened (discard any that remains closed).
- Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon into a large bowl and set aside. Cook the cream sauce for about 3-5 minutes until reduced by a third. Season with black pepper and/or sea salt to taste (it should be salty enough though from the anchovies and mussels) then stir in the chives.
- Serve mussels with plenty of sauce spooned over, a sprinkle of extra chives and with hot crusty bread.