Let’s make some steamed mussels! This is a low carb, low calorie meal full of flavor and happiness. All you need is a bag of mussels (mine was a 2lb-er), garlic, clam juice and lemon. Most people will steam them in white wine but since I don’t cook with wine, the clam juice works great. Seafood stock would also be a fantastic alternative to wine. And then the remainder of ingredients are up to you. Here’s what I did:
2 lb bag fresh mussels
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup clam juice (or seafood stock)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes, canned
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 cup roasted fennel
*for the fennel, I just quartered a bulb, tossed it in a little olive oil
and salt and pepper and threw it on a sheet pan in a 400 degree
oven for 20 min.
Prepare and clean the mussels:
**Go through each mussel to ensure they are all still alive.** If the shell is closed, the mussel is good. If you see one that is fully open or with a cracked shell, discard it. Mussels that are slightly open might still be alive. Just push the shell together and if it stays closed, it is alive. Or tap it gently against the sink and if it closes on it’s own, it is alive. Otherwise discard it. Err on the side of caution.
My mussels already had the beards removed. You can ask your fish counter to do that for you or just pull out the beard with your fingers. Then, place the mussels in a colander and rinse them in cold water, scrubbing off any debris from the outside. I like to soak them in a large bowl in very cold, very salty water for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour. The water needs to be salty or the fresh water will kill them. This helps to filter out most of the sand. Place them back in the colander, discarding the water from the bowl and rinse the mussels again with cold water.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for one minute until fragrent and soft. Add tomatoes and clam juice and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add parsley and red chili flake (optional). Mussels contain a fair amount of salt so I’m not adding any in.
Carefully ease the mussels into the skillet. Some of the mussels will begin to open right away. No problem. At this point, I added the roasted fennel to the skillet. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Mussels actually cook very quickly!
Check your mussels. You can see below that after 5 minutes, many of them have opened but a lot are still closed. If this happens, just put the lid back on and steam for another 2 minutes.
They should be fully opened as you see below. If at this point, some mussels are still closed, do not cook them any longer, just discard the closed shells.
Remove the mussels from the pan and place them in a large bowl. Now, spoon tons of the delicious, rich broth over the mussels. You will probably want to drink this broth out of the bottom of the bowl once you’ve eaten all the mussels so have spoons ready.
I’m serving this as an entrée so there is 3/4 – 1lb of mussels per person. But you could also make this as an appetizer to serve 4-6 people.