Thursday, August 27, 2009

Maori Fried Mussels

And we all know how the Kiwis love their mussels! Heck, just look at the All-Black Rugby team! Ok, just a little humour there...

There are probably about as many different ways to fry mussels as there are chef's in this world so these are definitely NOT the end-all, be-all of mussel frying. BUT (and it's a huge butt) there is one key thing here: fresh ingredients and minimal seasonings.

Why? Cus that's the Polynesian way of cooking, and New Zealand is part of Polynesia.

I'm going to give you 3 "methods" of frying them, no real recipes, just the basics of how to do it.

Oh, if you can't get fresh mussels, then you can use the jarred ones for this, but it won't be as tasty. But you won't have to go through the prep work so it all evens out.

A quick way to de-beard mussels: hold the mussel in one hand with the hinge of the shell towards you. Grab the beard with your other hand and give a quick pull towards you; the shell, as it approaches the hinge, will neatly slice off the beard. If you have a LOT of mussels this is much quicker than using scissors or a knife, AND you always get the entire beard.

1st method:

De-beard the mussels and put them in a pan with enough water to just cover them. Heat em up and take them out of the water as soon as they open. It is important you take them out right when they start to open.

Take the mussels out of their shells and slice or cutaway the tough outer ring around the front edge. Lightly dust them with flour, dip into egg/milk mixture (1 to 1, so about 1/4 cup of milk for each egg), dredge through breadcrumbs, and fry in hot butter until lightly golden brown.

2nd method:

Same as the first, but once you've got them out of the shells and cut away the tough ring you give em a quick rinse in cold water. Then dust with a mix of flour, salt and pepper. Dip in egg wash (all eggs, NO milk), dredge through breadcrumbs, and fry in very hot oil.

3rd method:

De-bread the mussels and pry them shells open (this can be, ummmm, fun!), cut off the outer ring, dust with flour, dip in 100% egg mix and then fry immediately in hot butter. This method produces the MOST succulent fried mussels EVER! But it is also a bit of work gettin' them suckers open without lightly steaming them first.

Any of those methods can be used with jarred mussels, no worries. Oh, and if you can get New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels... not only are they tasty but have some wonderful pharmacuetical properties too (I'll leave the googling for you).

If you do use a dipping sauce, DON'T use a strong flavoured sauce and DON'T use a lot of it.

A nice, crisp lager goes well with these, BTW.

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