Tuesday, January 31, 2012

TwoFaced: Mussels (and Frites)

"TwoFaced Tuesdays" is a joint venture between CupcakesOMG! and Jenna from The Paleo Project. Each week, we select one secret ingredient and put our own paleo spin on it. You can catch up on the entire series here. Also, if you have any special ingredient requests, you can always tweet us (@CupcakesOhMG and @ThePaleoProject) using the hashtag #TwoFacedTuesday.

If there are two things I'm not, it's compassionate and vegetarian...by ANY stretch of the imagination. Combining those two qualities (or lack thereof) means I don't generally squirm at things like raw meat. I'm pretty callused even to the whole fish-with-their-fish-heads-and-fish-eyes-still-attached-to-their-fish-bodies-nestled-just-so-in-crushed-ice-at-Whole-Foods thing. 

But there's something about "de-bearding" a live mussel that just makes me want to vom a little. 

Cooking mussels is similar to cooking lobster, in that they are alive when you cook them. And that, my Cupcult, is where the similarities end. But still, that's pretty creepy, right?? So like, these little shells are actual living things. Mollusks, if you will. It's absolutely disgusting, I know.
I'm totally confused about a.) what purpose they serve in the aquatic world, b.) what they eat, how they eat, and how they excrement whatever it is that they eat, if they eat, and c.) what the hell a "beard" even is.  I NEED ANSWERS, PEOPLE!!!! 

If you've never cooked mussels at home, and why the hell would you??, please watch this video for proper mussel cleaning and *shudder* de-bearding techniques.

Despite all the cringing cooking mussels brings on, mussles and frites are one of my all time favorite meals. Since I was cooking mussels for only the second time in my life, and the first time in my life I did it correctly, I thought I'd go balls to the wall and try out some other unique flavor pairings, namely saffron and lemongrass.
This is lemongrass. Lemongrass, Cupcult. Cupcult, Lemongrass. It smells, well, lemony. It's used in lots of Thai food. The end.

Once you get past the whole de-bearding and "are they or aren't they alive" debacle, making mussels is actually pretty quick work.
You just sautè some onion, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger in a pot with some coconut oil. Then you add your coconut milk, saffron, and salt and pepper until all the flavors are infused and the broth is a beautiful golden yellow. Thanks saffron!!
At that point, you then add your cleaned mussels to the mix for a few minutes until they open, and voila!
If you're smart, you'd also be ready with your sweet potato "frites", perfect for soaking up all the brothy goodness, because god knows bread is OUT of the question!!!

Be sure to check out The Paleo Project's take on mussels!

Coconut Saffron Lemongrass Mussels
Serves 2
  • 2.5-3 pounds fresh mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (bulb and grassy stems removed), chopped into quarters and smashed
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 large pinch saffron
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, saute onion, ginger, and lemongrass in coconut oil for about a minute and a half over medium high, until onion is translucent.
2. Add coconut milk and saffron to pot. Bring to a low boil, stirring until broth becomes a golden yellow color, about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper (taste the broth here to decide whether you need to add more).
3. Turn heat down to medium-low and add mussels. Cover pot with lid and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened up. 
4. Discard any mussels that did not open (they're dead). Serve with broth and sweet potato frites.


whitney said...

two comments:

1. i could never de-beard those things. so kuddos to you.

2. cupcult. amazeballs.

Natasha Contreras said...

Ummm hi. Those look amazeballs. I always order mussels when I eat out, but I've only tried cooking them ones. Suppose I'll give it another shot. Next project: shucking oysters in my kitchen while sipping champagne ;)

Love your blog btw. Following from here on out!

Anonymous said...

Looks pretty yummy. We can't get fresh mussels here though. Bummer.

Fash Boulevard said...

these looks insanely delish. fabulous post, love. if you get a sec, I'd love to hear what you think of my latest outfit post. xo


Jenna | The Eighty Twenty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenna | The Eighty Twenty said...

The first thing James said to me was how he wished we had huge chunks of fresh bread to dunk in the broth. Also, those look amazing and the broth you made reminds me of the mussels we ordered on our first date.

Kelly | Eat Yourself Skinny said...

Ok I absolutely ADORE your blog!! So excited to have found it, consider me your newest follower! xoxo

clb said...

love your blog! made these mussels for dinner last night and had to write you and tell you they turned out great - the broth was fantastic. thank you b/c i had a weird fear of shellfish. it is now about 80% gone! (beards?!?... ick)

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