Friday, 12 February 2010

Mussels with Mettle

I think mussels are underrated.  They are deliciously sweet, easy to prepare, nutritious, pretty, equally good raw or cooked, and plentiful in the UK and much of Europe.  They are also cheap (£3.50/kg); perhaps they do not receive the recognition they deserve because of this.
Posh fish like turbot and brill and shellfish like lobster have special, often expensive implements for cooking and eating them.  But when it comes to the "humble" mussel any old saucepan will do to boil them up; and then, one is expected to eat them using empty shells as utensils.
Using the shell as a kind of combined fork, knife and spoon is good though after a few mouthfuls the hinge breaks or one's fingers crush the shell in hasty enthusiasm.  Through my friend Amanda at the Goldsmiths' annual fair I met a silversmith who makes these exquisite and very realistic gold-plated mussel shells which possess an indefatigable hinge and a solid sterling silver body.
Eating mussels with one of these is a real joy and whilst one might feel a little foolish using one at home whilst sprawled on the sofa watching News at Ten on the box I reckon they have their place in smart fish restaurants like Scott's, Bentley's or Sheekey's.
Just make sure the plongeur doesn't end up chucking them in the bin.

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