magnificant mussels

Although I spend many of my work hours cooking up a storm developing and testing recipes, I still love to get into the kitchen when I get home.

Today I was lucky to take home some left over fresh mussels from work.
Mussels are so easy to cook and there is something so tantalising about sitting down a bowl of hot piping mussels on a cool evening.

As I drove home in the evening traffic my mind turned over what I would create with my catch. Mussels cooked in a creamy, garlicky and spring onion sauce and tossed through linguini, or a mussel paella with peas, calasparra rice, smoked paprika and saffron , or a cooked with rice noodles in a rich yellow coconut curry, or just superbly steamed in a flavourful broth.

Or course it would all depend on what i would find on hand in the kitchen!

I surveyed the fridge and found baby fennel, ripe Roma tomatoes, continental parsley, a lemon, lots of garlic, a red onion, some baby capers , a bottle of Maggie Beer Verjuice and a jar of pickled jalapenos.

I could have used these to create a pasta but my last thought of steaming them in a flavoursome broth had tickled my taste buds and the above ingredients, with a some Campbell's Real Fish Stock that I had in the pantry, would make an amazing dinner for one.

The couscous is perfect to serve with this dish as it soaks up the broth leaving you with a sublime tomato & fennel couscous to enjoy, after you have devoured all the mussels. If you don't feel like serving with couscous this dish would also be great with some thick slices of toasted sourdough or ciabatta.

Just a little note when buying mussels make sure they are still alive. Their shells should be closed when you buy them, sometimes you might find that the shell will be slightly open however if you give the mussel shell a gentle squeeze it should close again, if it doesn’t then discard it. And if any of the mussels don’t open after cooking, then its best to discard these too.

steamed mussels in fennel & tomato broth
Serves 1

1 baby fennel
2 tsp oil
½ red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp finely chopped jalapeno chillies
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups Campbell's Real Stock -Fish
¼ cup Maggie Beer Verjuice
1 tsp baby capers
1 tbsp chopped continental parsley
finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
½ cup couscous
450g mussels, shells scrubbed and beards removed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra continental parsley, to garnish

  • Cut fennel bulb in half, remove core, then slice bulb and stalks thinly. Roughly chop fennel fronds and reserve.
  • Heat oil in a wok, or large deep frying pan, over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often until softened. Add sliced fennel and fennel stalks and cook for 2 -3 minutes until just softened.
  • Increase heat to high, add 1 cup stock, verjuice, capers , parsley and lemon zest and juice and bring to the boil.
  • Meanwhile place remaining stock in a large microwave safe bowl and heat on HIGH power for 3 minutes or until has just come to the boil. Remove from microwave. Stir in couscous, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Toss mussels and reserved chopped fennel fronds into the wok. Cover and cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened during cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Fluff couscous with a fork then spoon mussels and the fennel tomato broth over the couscous. Sprinkle over a little extra chopped parsley and serve immediately.