When cooking mussels, the size of the pot matters- if you don’t have a large wide stockpot, cook the mussels in 2- 3 pans so they have room to move and cook evenly.
Mussels, mayonnaise, chips and beer. It doesn’t get much better than that. Food Safari Water
- 80 g butter
- 2 onions, finely diced
- 4 golden French shallots, finely diced
- 3 celery stalks, finely sliced
- bouquet garni (bay leaves, thyme, parsley and celery leaf tied in a bundle)
- 5 garlic cloves, bruised
- 1 star anise
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 700 ml white wine
- 4 kg local black mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
- handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Mayonnaise, to serve
- 1 kg Desiree or Sebago potatoes, peeled
- canola oil, for deep-frying
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the chips, peel the potatoes and cut into chips. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dee-fryer to 140˚C. Cook the chips for 6 minutes or until just tender but not at all coloured. Remove from the fryer, spread over a tray and set aside for 10 minutes while you make the mussels.
Melt the butter in a large stockpot (it should be about 12 litre capacity) over low heat. Add the onion and shallot, stir to combine, then cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the celery, bouquet garni, garlic, star anise and peppercorns. Increase the heat to high, then pour in the wine, cover and bring to the boil. Allow to reduce for 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol.
Add the mussels, cover and cook, shaking the pan every now and then, for 3-4 minutes or until the mussels open and are just cooked. You need to make sure the mussels have a nice shape and a firm enough texture. Not hard but not completely soft. Remove from heat, divide among bowls, pour over the cooking liquid and scatter with parsley.
While the mussels are cooking, increase the oil in the deep-fryer to 180˚C. Re-fry the chips until golden and crisp. Drain and toss in a bowl with salt to taste. Serve with the mussels and mayonnaise.
• The cooking time for the mussels depends on the quantity you’re cooking, but mostly on the width of pan you’re using- the wider the better because there is more contact with the heat source and they will cook quickly instead of stewing.