Mussel Memories Make a Great Appetizer

2014-03-16 12.15.28 When I was a kid we would go to nearby Laurel Hollow on Long Island Sound and pick hundreds of mussels off the rocks throwing them into buckets to bring home.  I was only a teenager at the time and the way we cooked them was the only way we knew how.  A bunch of us pulled the beards off the mussel shells, washed them, and tossed them into a pot with lots of chopped garlic, olive oil, and a little white wine.  The cover was placed on top and they steamed only until the shells opened and not longer.  Then a sprinkle of parsley and we would eat to our hearts content.  Normally there were hundreds of mussels to eat and not the handful a restaurant gives you—that’s what was so great, and the juices would splatter all over us.  I haven’t been on Long Island in decades so I’m not sure that one can still do that, although I doubt it.  Free seafood seems like a pipe dream these days when clams go for $7 a pound at my local fishmonger.


All I can do now is perhaps support my local fishermen which I love doing by having joined Community Seafood, a community supported fishery based in Santa Barbara, California.  This   grassroots organization was started to support their fishing community and to create a sustainable future for our seafood harvest.  They have a couple of places for pick-ups in the Los Angeles area and luckily one is very near me.  I particularly like the e-mail reminders I get before my pick-up with a short description of the fisherman whose catch I am buying.  So last Sunday I forgot to look at the e-mail and nearly forgot to pick-up so I rushed over not knowing what I was going to get.  And then they handed me my bag of mussels.  There was no doubt how I was going to cook them: I needed to revisit that fabulous summer day on Long Island almost 50 years ago, so as soon as I got home I steamed those babies. 2014-03-16 12.15.40

Steamed Mussels

1 pound mussels, debearded and rinsed

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Place the mussels in a pot and toss with the garlic, olive oil, and wine.  Cover and turn the heat to high and steam until they open and not longer, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve with a side bowl to toss the empty shells.

Makes 2 appetizer servings

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