Huey's blog

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  • A Pot Of Mussels

    There are few things that I regret about having spent most of my working life in restaurant kitchens. But one thing that does annoy the hell out of me is the fact that, because of this, I have developed a quite serious allergy to crustaceans. A fairly common problem among chefs, it not only means that I can't eat the blessed things, but I also have at times difficulty even preparing them.

    Fortunately, in recent years, this has not been so much of a problem, because crayfish, mud crabs and even prawns have almost priced themselves off our tables. And, for some strange reason, cheaper numbers such as blue swimmers, bugs and yabbies just don't seem to have quite the same appeal (maybe purely and simply because they can be so bloody difficult to eat).

    Still, I suppose I should really count my lucky stars that it is only crustaceans that cause me such problems. Because, with other shellfish such as mussels, oysters and scallops freely available and still relatively inexpensive, I will hardly starve. Although I do remember the days when I could sit down to a whole freshly boiled cray with melted butter that was not only affordable, but didn't attempt to kill me. Or piles of prawns pulled straight from the poaching stock and peeled the minute I could touch them. Or mud crabs with black bean sauce in my local Chinese that was so good and so cheap that I invariably ordered two.

    Here's a mussel recipe for you to try.

    Serves 4-6

    4-5 dozen tightly closed mussels
    300 ml dry white wine
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    1 bay leaf
    4 parsley sprigs
    100 ml cream (optional)
    1-2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
    freshly ground pepper
    crusty bread

    Scrub mussels with a stiff brush and remove the beard (discard any that are not tightly closed). Place in a large heavy-bottomed pot with the wine, onion, bay leaf and parsley. Cover tightly and cook over a high heat until mussels begin to open, giving a firm shake at regular intervals to redistribute them. Remove mussels as they open and place in deep bowls, discarding any that don't.

    When all mussels are open, remove the parsley and bay leaf. Add cream, parsley and pepper. Stir and boil for about 1 min. Then pour the sauce over the mussels and serve with plenty of bread on the side.

    nb. Sydney chef Steve Manfredi removes mussels from their shells and rolls them in fresh pasta sheets along with some fresh tomato sauce. He then places these 'rolls' in an ovenproof dish, sprinkles them with more tomato sauce and plenty of grated cheese, and bakes them until they are bubbling - delicious.

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    1 stick125 gm
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    4 tspn1 tbsp
    3 tbsp1/4 cup
    1 cup250 ml
    4 cups1 litre
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    1 lb450 gm