Mussel Up

Four of our favorite recipes for that delectable shellfish.


½ cup olive oil
½ cup each finely chopped onion, carrots, and leeks
1/8 cup finely julienned celery
2 teaspoons minced shallots
½ cup chopped fresh tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups fish stock
1 tablespoon sea salt (approximately)
1 bouquet garni consisting of ½ teaspoon fennel seed, ½ teaspoon anise seed, ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 clove, pinch of thyme and 2 cloves garlic crushed, wrapped in a cheesecloth
½ teaspoon saffron

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onions, leeks, celery and carrots and cook covered until tender, about 15 minutes, stirring often. Add the shallots, tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, fish stock, salt and bouquet garni. Boil for approximately 25 minutes. Add the saffron and simmer 5 more minutes.

6 mussels
4 little neck clams
¼ pound sea scallops
single 1-pound Maine lobster
¼ pound raw shrimp (20-24 count)
4 ounces fish fillets (red snapper, sea bass, grouper)
4 oysters (optional)
2 teaspoons Pernod
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh fennel
½ teaspoon chopped garlic

While the broth is cooking, prepare the seafood. Clean the mussels individually in cold water, scraping off any clinging barnacles or “beards.” Discard any half-open shells or any unusually heavy ones, which indicate internal grit. Rinse the clams, oysters and scallops in cold water.

Using a sharp heavy knife, force the point of the blade through the top of the lobster head between the eyes. Then cut down through the center of the head and tail, splitting the lobster in half. Remove and discard the lobster head and the intestinal vein running down the center of the tail. Remove the claws and crack them with the blunt edge of the blade. Peel and devein the shrimp. Cut the fish fillets into 2- to 3-inch diagonal slices.

Add the mussels and clams to the boiling broth and simmer 5 minutes. Then add the lobster, shrimp, scallops and fish. Continue boiling until all the shellfish are open, approximately 5-8 more minutes. Do not overcook.

Remove from heat, adjust seasoning (more garlic or saffron according to taste), add Pernod and chopped fennel, and serve immediately in large warm soup platters. Garnish with garlic toasts.

Serves 6

Galley Paella

Olive oil for sautéing
24 ounces uncooked chicken, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 tablespoons garlic, chopped
2 cups white wine
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup asparagus, blanched, chopped
¼ cup roasted red pepper
¼ cup capers
¼ cup peas
18 shrimp
Mussels and salty ham (chef’s choice of measure)
4-5 cups cooked brown rice
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, heat enough olive oil to sauté meat and vegetables. Add chicken, onion and pepper, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add wine, and cook over high heat until reduced by half. Add chicken stock, seafood and ham and simmer until mussels open. Then add asparagus, roasted red pepper, capers and peas. Toss with cooked brown rice. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 6-8

Moules Frites

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 small shallots, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ pounds mussels
8 ounces chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat a large pot to medium temperature and add olive oil and butter. Once butter has melted, add shallots, and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until the shallots have softened, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add wine, chicken broth and mussels. Cover and steam until all mussels open, but no more than 10 minutes. Add parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the frites:
6 large Idaho russet potatoes, peeled
1 ½ quarts canola oil

Cut potatoes into ¼-inch slices, then cut into strips. Soak in cold water until ready to fry. Remove and let dry completely on paper towels. Heat oil to 325 degrees. To avoid overcrowding, fry in batches 2-3 minutes until brown. Drain well. Increase oil temperature to 375 degrees and repeat; it is important not to guess at oil temperature.

Remove from oil and drain well. Salt to taste. Serve immediately for optimum crispness.

Serves 2

Mussel Bisque with Saffron and Parsley Purée

3 pounds mussels in shells
1 cup white wine
1½ cups water
1½ cups chicken stock
1 cup medium-diced onion
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds, crushed
4 tablespoons flour
2 generous pinches saffron
1 tablespoon boiling water
¼ cup heavy cream
½ tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons each butter and olive oil
1 bunch parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and scrub mussels, discarding beards. Throw away any that are cracked or open. Combine wine and water with mussels and cook over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until shells open. Strain mussels through a fine sieve and discard any mussels that stayed closed. Using fingers, pull mussels from shells and discard shells.

Activate saffron by mixing it with the tablespoon of boiling water. Heat butter and oil over medium heat and sauté onion and fenugreek seeds for about 5 minutes until soft, not brown. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add flour and cook for 2 more minutes. Combine all liquids, including saffron liquid. Slowly increase heat and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Wash parsley. Blanch in rapidly boiling water for 15 seconds. Refresh in ice water. Squeeze dry with paper towels. Puree, adding water slowly as needed until smooth. Serve in bowls. Add mussels and swirl with parsley purée.

Serves 6

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