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Mussel Beach
by Bob Blumer
Magazine Issue: Internet Only

Mussel Beach

Mussels on the half shell are as exotic and flavorful as they are inexpensive.

(serves 6)

6 basil leaves
2 T fresh thyme, remove and discard stems before measuring
2 T fresh tarragon, remove and discard stems before measuring
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot(s), minced
3 lemons, 1 * zested, 1 /2*juiced, 1 - 1/2* cut into wedges and reserved for garnish
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley sprigs, remove and discard stems before measuring
1/2 t celery salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
3 T butter at room temperature
1 lb. cultured blue mussels, rinsed, and debearded with a quick tug

1. . Mix all ingredients except the butter and mussels in a small food processor or blender or dice finely and mix by hand in a small bowl.

2. . If using a processor or blender add the butter. Otherwise, add the butter to the mixture in the bowl and blend thoroughly with a spoon.

3. . Place a vegetable steamer in a large pot and add 1 inch of water Bring water to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and steam for approximately 40 to 60 seconds, or just long enough for the shells to open (this is the sole object of the exercise). Remove opened shells and continue steaming any closed shells for I minute. Discard any mussels that have not opened by this time.

4. . Allow the mussels to cool. Remove the top shell.

5. . Set the mussels on a baking sheet (facing up) and spoon 1/4 teaspoon of the butter/herb mixture over each.

6. . Place the pan under the broiler on the level closest to the element or flame. Broil for about 2-1/2 minutes, or until butter is melted and the mussels just begin to brown.

7. . Serve on the half shell.

le secret. .Do not oversteam or overbroil mussels.

the adventure club . .Add a few droplets of Pernod (a licorice-flavored liqueur) to each mussel just before cooking.

garnish . .Lemon wedges.

suggested accompaniment . .A martini.

alternatives . .i) Butter may be replaced with an equal amount of olive oil. ii) This recipe also works with oysters, but you will have to pray for a pearl in order to finance the difference in price.

notes . .Buy the mussels from a reputable fishmonger on the day of the dinner. Select only mussels that are closed. ii) Keep mussels refrigerated. iii) Mussels are best washed and cleaned just before using. They begin to dry out once the beard is removed. iv) Don't worry if you are missing any one of the herbs. v) If you open a mussel and it looks questionable, give it the smell test.

guest assignment . .Mussel debearder.

hints for advance prep . .The butter mixture may be prepared days in advance and refrigerated or frozen.

cooking apparatus . .A baking sheet, a large pot, and a vegetable steamer.

serving apparatus . .A large serving plate, a plate for the empty shells and cocktail napkins.

prep time . .Thirty minutes.

cooking time . .Five minutes.

* Double for 12 servings

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