Cooking On A Budget: Steamed Mussels with Saffron Aioli

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Steamed Mussels with Saffron Aioli

Sweet and briny, mussels are little gems of deliciousness from the sea.

I am fairly sure that when I was trying to figure out how many mussels to buy and saw that 4 ounces of mussels was the per person portion, one would have to assume that is an appetizer size. So for two people 8 ounces each perhaps would be an entree portion. Well I have a little over a pound and served with a crusty, garlic rubbed crostini this will make a delightful meal. Perhaps on the side will be a little caprese salad. After all I do have cherry tomatoes, fresh basil from the garden and a hunk of fresh mozzarella cheese.

There's something I must admit - until I was an older adult I did not even try mussels due in part to my dislike of steamer clams. The first time I actually had a taste was when I was treated to dinner at a restaurant owned by Todd English and mussels were an appetizer and ordered by my brother-in-law. They were so delicious and I vowed I from then on that I would make them at home.

When I was ready I had it in mind that because it's shellfish that mussels would be expensive. They actually were not. For quite a while I was getting mussels for $2.99 per pound and the last time I purchased them they rose to $3.99 per pound. Probably due to the rise in demand because mussels were an inexpensive choice for a protein, they are now $5.99 per pound! This puts them in the category (for me at least), a shellfish to make for "special" occasions.

One and a quarter pound was enough though for just my husband and myself along with the salad and the toasted bread. So if you see mussels on sale for $3.99 I would definitely grab some and try this recipe! It's so delicious. The mussels themselves are sweet treats from the sea. A combination of sweet and briny and just scrumptious. AND, I love the way they look - elegant looking like a tiny creature dressed in an over-sized tuxedo!

For those of you who might be timid to use raw eggs in the aioli, substitute with 1/4 cup of something like egg beaters.

For the Aioli:
  • 3-4 large egg yolks or 1/4 cup egg beaters
  • 1 1/2 tsp. finely minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • large pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 oz. olive oil (extra virgin or regular)
  1. Place the first five ingredients in a blender and whiz until aerated.
  2. Keep the blender on a medium speed and slowly pour the olive oil in until emulsified.
  3. Store in a container in the refrigerator covered until ready to use.

For the Mussels:
  • 1 + pound mussels
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp. garlic - minced
  • 2 tbsp. shallots - minced (use a sweet onion as a substitute)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • salt and black pepper to taste (use ground black pepper if you can)
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley - minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil - minced
  • rustic bread toasted or grilled and rubbed with a clove of garlic
  1. In a saute pan over medium heat melt one tablespoon of butter with the olive oil.
  2. Add the shallots and garlic and turn heat down to medium low. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes without adding any color.
  3. Add in the mussels and the wine. Cover and cook over medium heat until the mussels open. If they do not open, toss them. This takes about 6-8 minutes.
  4. Place the mussels in a bowl and drizzle with the ailoi and distribute the broth equally in the bowls.
  5. Serve with the garlic rubbed crostini and enjoy.

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