Serves 6 as a starter, 2 as a main course
1 kg mussels, prepared (see below)*
200ml fish stock, bought or home-made (see below)**
Half a medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
* How to prepare mussels
Half fill the kitchen sink with water. Throw the mussels in. Go through each mussel, de-bearding (pulling out the green hairy bit). You do this by grabbing the beard between finger and thumb and pulling it with a sawing action up and down the line of the mussel so all of it comes out. Scrub any barnacles off the shells. Rinse each mussel under the cold tap, then gently tap each mussel, discarding any that don’t close when you tap them (It’s cos they’re dead. Allegedly). Now the fresh ones are ready to cook!
** You can buy fresh fish stock at a supermarket or you can use fish stock cubes. Or make your own by saving fish bones and heads from previous fish dishes, covering them with water in a large saucepan, Add 10 black peppercorns, 1 stick of chopped celery, 2 carrots cut in half, and half a bayleaf to the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 12 minutes. Strain, discard the solids and cool the clear liquid. Freeze for later or use straightaway.
• Choose a heavy-based saucepan that has a lid.
• Pour the olive oil into the saucepan and fry the onion for 8 minutes.
• Add the garlic and fry for 2 more minutes.
• Add the fish stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
• Add mussels, cover with a lid immediately, give the pan a little shake and leave on the heat for around 6 minutes.
• The mussels are ready when they’ve all opened.
• Lift the lid and scatter the mussels with the chopped parsley.
• Divide the mussels between bowls, adding some cooking liquor to each one.
• Remember to dip your bread in the liquor, and eat with a loud slurping noise.
Tip: Scour the bargain shelves of well-known supermarkets for these little beauties. The great British public are afraid of them, so they tend to leave them for you, or me, to pick up from the “hurry up and eat me” counter.