Flex Your Mussels

02 Jun 2018

IMG_1700 (1)Truth be told, mussel eating didn’t come all that easy to me. After reading Anthony Bourdain’s excerpt on mussels in restaurant kitchens in his book Kitchen Confidential, I became preposterously paranoid about these wild bivalves and would spend an inordinate amount of time questioning wait staff in restaurants about the freshness and sourcing of their shellfish. Even after deciding to place an order, I still inspected platters of moules-frites like some sort of maniac (less than a satisfying experience indeed!)
But, I am here to tell you that the mussels of Ireland changed my mind. When I moved from the USA to this craggy isle and discovered that it was possible to literally harvest live mussels from tide pools on the beach just thirty minutes from our farm, the switch flipped. The only thing between me and my harvested wild mussels was a pail, a splash of salt water, and fresh seaweed to transport the precious commodities home. I mean, mussel harvesting = Next LEVEL, right? That alone was exciting enough to get me hooked. Now, I cook with mussels quite frequently and everyone in our family loves them– though I usually go to my local fishmonger to buy them as they are great value and I am usually in a pinch to save time.


This month I am partnering with Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) for their #flexyourmussels campaign which is underway to encourage more Irish consumers to cook and enjoy mussels at home and to consider ordering mussels when dining out too. Irish mussels are easy to prepare, high in 
protein and iron, are great value (at roughly 5 euros per kg), and packed full of flavour. You can check out Bord Bia’s “How to Prepare Mussels” video and more recipe inspo here.


I will be posting a second recipe mid June, but here’s one of my favourites. A bit of a spin on vongole, using mussels instead of clams.


A delicious and simple recipe.  If you would like to change it up, try adding some uncooked prawns instead of the hake.
Serves 4
Time: 20 minutes
1kg large mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
200g hake, skinned and boned
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
120ml white wine
250ml cream
300g linguine
20g fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablesp. capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablesp. fresh parsley, basil or dill
To serve: Tomato and red onion salad
Place the shallot, garlic and white wine in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add the mussels, cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan a few times until the mussels have opened. Remove the mussels from the saucepan and discard any that have not opened. Reserve the cooking liquid in the saucepan and add in the hake. Cover and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until the hake is just cooked through – don’t allow it to boil. Put a large colander over a bowl and tip the fish into the colander, allowing the liquid to strain into the bowl. Break the hake into chunks.

Meanwhile cook the linguine as per packet instructions. When the pasta is cooked, drain, saving a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the saucepan along with the reserved cooking liquid.

Rinse the saucepan the mussels and hake were cooked in, then pour the reserved cooking liquid from the bowl back into the saucepan, leaving any fine grit in the bottom of the bowl. Simmer for a minute or two, then pour in the cream and simmer to reduce a little. Add the cheese, stir and allow it to melt. Add the capers and stir through.  Pour the sauce into the sauce pan with the pasta along with the mussels and chunks of hake and mix gently. Return the saucepan to a low heat for a couple of minutes to heat through. Taste and season with a little salt and black pepper.

Divide between 4 pasta plates and sprinkle over the chopped herbs. Serve with a tomato and red onion salad.


Energy:        643kcal

Protein:        27g

Fat:                33g  (Saturated Fat: 17g)

Iron:              4.25mg

Carbohydrate:  58G

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2 Responses to “Flex Your Mussels”

  1. Linda says:

    Yum. thanks! You are very lucky to be able to have such wonderful food local. Do you ever harvest any of the local seaweed and use it in recipes?
    btw – I usually put mussels under the broiler ( 3 minutes) with a little mayo and sriracha mixed together and a sprinkle of chives, but I am going to try your recipe next.

  2. Sonia Mulford says:

    This whole post is gorgeous!

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