I really like mussels. But they have to be fresh! Whenever buying mussels I make sure that any open mussels stay shut when I squeeze them. I also smell them. If you pick up a bag of mussels and you place it under your nose it might look weird, but if they smell rotten you won’t want to be eating them.
The next recipes is (I’m sure you’ve already figured out) a mussels recipe that came from the cookbook The Food of Vietnam by Luke Nguyen. The recipe I had tagged was for Black Mussels with Asian Basil & Oyster Sauce.
As I’ve talked about recently I started going to MultiFood in Windsor. I knew they would have Asian basil but I also knew they would have it labeled in it’s Chinese name…so before I went shopping I looked up the Chinese name of Asian basil and found out it was que. Since I had to buy such a large quantity of it (it came prepackaged) I looked up ways to save basil and I learned that I should keep it in a jar on the counter and basically treat it like a bouquet flowers. So I know have a basil bouquet on my counter 🙂
I bought my mussels at Mediterranean Seafood in Windsor. I have to say these were really nice and super fresh mussels…and inexpensive! AND they also seemed to be washed and debearded!
To cook, I put my cast iron dutch oven on high heat and added vegetable stock (though the recipe says you can use chicken stock or water) and mussel to the pot and put the lid on it. I cooked for 4 minutes then drained the stock from the mussels, reserving the stock.
Then I put the pot back on the stove over medium heat and added vegetable oil and minced garlic and chili pepper.
That cooked for a couple of minutes and the mussels were added back to the pot, the heat increased slightly. Oyster sauce, fish sauce, Asian basil (que) and some of the reserved cooking liquid were added then stirred.
A slurry of cornstarch and water was added to thicken the sauce slightly, then sugar and pepper were stirred in. And they were done!
The Verdict: While these made for a tasty dinner, I found the recipe on a whole a bit disjointed. It seemed strange to remove the mussels and liquid just to add them back to the pot a few minutes later. It was kind of a pain too! So while I enjoyed these I may try to rework the recipe a bit next time.