Cooking Smart with Chef Dave Smart: Steamed mussels a Maritime treat

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Chef Dave Smart is the chef at Front and Central restaurant in Wolfville and author of the Cooking Smart column in the Kings County Advertiser and Register.

Nothing beats a big pot of steamed mussels fresh from the ocean. Access to fresh mussels is one of the amazing benefits to living here in the Maritimes. I can still remember sailing down to Mahone Bay with some friends a number of years ago and anchoring in Deep Cove. We were able to harvest mussels off the bottom and place them right into a hot pot with some garlic and onion. A quick splash of white wine followed by five minutes of cooking was all that we needed to create an amazing appetizer for our dinner that night. It doesn’t get any better or fresher than that!

The best part about cooking mussels is that it is very easy and versatile. Whether you go with a little bit of garlic and white wine, get fancy with fresh herbs and tomatoes from your garden or step it up a notch with green Thai curry paste and coconut milk, it all follows the same basic steps. 

And don’t forget to have some fresh bread for mopping up the lovely juices at the bottom of the pot. Wash them down with a crisp glass of Nova Scotia’s own Tidal Bay and you have perfect hot summer night treat!

Steamed Mussels with Garlic & White Wine

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½ cup shallot (or onion) diced fine

2 cloves garlic minced

2 lbs Mussels – washed and sorted – remove damaged shells or mussels that aren’t closed

½ cup white wine

¼ cup Parsley – coarsely chopped

Method:

Add oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat.  Add shallot and garlic and sweat until fragrant, approximately one minute. 

Add the mussels and white wine and cover pot with tight fitting lid.  Steam mussels until they are open, approximately five minutes, shaking every minute to re-distribute the mussels in the pot. Discard any mussels that do not open.

Transfer cooked mussels to a bowl with the cooking liquid, top with fresh parsley, and serve. 

 

Steamed Mussels with Basil and Tomato

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½ cup (or onion) diced fine

2 cloves garlic minced

1 cup tomato – diced medium

2 lbs Mussels – washed and sorted – remove damaged shells or mussels that aren’t closed

½ cup white wine

¼ cup basil – coarsely chopped

Method:

Add oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat.  Add shallot, garlic, and tomato and sweat until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. 

Add the mussels and white wine and cover pot with tight fitting lid.  Steam mussels until they are open, approximately 5 minutes, shaking every minute to re-distribute the mussels in the pot.  Discard any mussels that do not open.

Transfer cooked mussels to a bowl with the cooking liquid, top with fresh basil, and serve. 

 

Steamed Mussels with Coconut Curry & Cilantro

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½ cup shallot (or onion) diced fine

1 tbsp ginger – pealed & minced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tbsp – green Thai curry paste

2 lbs Mussels – washed and sorted – remove damaged shells or mussels that aren’t closed

1/2 cup coconut milk

¼ cup cilantro – coarsely chopped

Method:

Add oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat.  Add shallot, garlic, ginger, and curry paste and sweat until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. 

Add the mussels and coconut milk and cover pot with tight fitting lid.  Steam mussels until they are open, approximately 5 minutes, shaking every minute to re-distribute the mussels in the pot.  Discard any mussels that do not open.

Transfer cooked mussels to a bowl with the cooking liquid, top with fresh cilantro, and serve. 

Geographic location: Mahone Bay, Deep Cove, Nova Scotia Tidal Bay

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