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Mussels with Saffron & Ginger Recipe

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Mussels with Saffron & Ginger Recipe

Mussels with Saffron & Ginger

Photo © Uitgeverij KunstMag
Mussels have long been a popular seafood in the Netherlands. In fact, various 15th century recipes for preparing these bivalves have survived - perhaps because mussels were once popular during the many Christian fasting periods throughout the year. In the northern hemisphere, mussels are at their best in the late summer and the months with an 'r' in the name, although modern mussel farming techniques mean that we can now enjoy them almost year-round.

If the use of ginger and saffron seem suspiciously modern, you may be surprised to learn that this recipe was actually based on a 15th century culinary manuscript kept in the library of the Ghent-based 'Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde' (the Royal Academy for Dutch Language and -Literature).

This recipe has been translated and adapted from the original Dutch in Kastelenkookboek cookbook and published on the Dutch Food site with the kind permission of the publisher.

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2.2 lb/1 kilo mussels
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • A few threads of saffron, crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pint/½ liter white wine
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • YOU WILL NEED:
  • A mussel pot (optional) or Dutch oven
  • A frying pan

Preparation:

Clean the mussels (see Tips). Add the mussels to a large (mussel) pot along with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste. Allow to cook over a medium high heat for a moment or two until it begins to sizzle.

Now add the white wine and cover the pot. Once the mussels have opened (this should take mere minutes) remove from the stove and toss the mussels into a large bowl. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Remove the mussel meat from their shells (use an empty shell as a makeshift pincer to pinch out the flesh).

Add the rest of the olive oil to a frying pan, along with the chopped onion. Gently cook the onion until just glazed and then add the mussel flesh and mix well. Now add the ground ginger and saffron. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the mussels and serve with crusty bread, a green salad and a glass of crisp white wine.

Tips:

  • Most mussels sold in the Netherlands today have already been cleaned and debearded. If your mussels haven't been cleaned, simply use a knife or wire brush to scrape off any barnacles on the shells. Debeard the mussels by pulling off any strands. Place the mussels in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cool water. Discard any that have broken shells. Tap the open mussels on a hard surface and if they do not close within a few moments, throw them out too.

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