Seafood is truly Ireland’s delicious bounty. It is only when you travel and sample that which other nations consider their finest produce that you realise we genuinely are spoiled here, we should be so proud!
Shellfish in particular showcases of the flavour of our surrounding waters, feeding on the sea flora unique to our coast resulting in a true taste of the Island. Mussels are no exception to this and unlike fellow shelled wonders oysters, are exceedingly popular with the majority of Irish diners. The steamy aroma of Moules Mariniéres can immediately entice most people and the dish is a staple on restaurant menus across Ireland for a reason.
Surprisingly however, home cooks here are wary of whipping up a batch themselves, preferring to hand the job over to chefs when dining out. In reality, mussels aren’t at all pricey, are a great source of low-fat protein, omega 3 fatty acids and minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium, iodine and B vitamins. Best of all, mussels are such a simple ingredient to work with. Following some basic rules of thumb (scrub those beards well and if it doesn’t open, chuck it!) allows you to #FlexYourMussels and create a treasure trove of easy, nutritious mussel dishes at home. If you are anxious about preparing mussels at home, take a quick look at this video to hone your skills.
Below is my super easy recipe, a sort of lightened up Moules Mariniére, perfect for a midweek supper and light enough to count as a healthy meal. Lemon-y creme fraiche, white wine, garlic and fresh parsley make the sweetness of mussels pop and they are perfectly paired with the freshness of lightly cooked courgette. You don’t need a spiralizer, a veggie peeler will do the trick and ensure you get long, luscious papardelle-like strands which hold their structure in their fabulous flavour bath.
– 1 kg of mussels, scrubbed
– 200g pot of creme fraiche
– 1 large unwaxed lemon
– 2 cloves of garlic
– large handful of fresh, flat leaf parsley
– 4 large courgettes
– Fresh cracked black pepper
– 120ml White wine (Picpoul de Pinet works well)
– Parmesan shavings, optional
1.Using a vegetable peeler, make ribbon-like papardelle by running the peeler down the length of each courgette. If you have a spiralizer, you can use the straight blade if you prefer tagliatelle style courgette.
2. In a large, deep saucepan, heat the oil and half the butter over a medium heat, then add the garlic and lemon zest, cooking for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the mussels. Pour in the wine, season with cracked black pepper and increase to a high heat. Cover the pan with its lid and allow to steam until the mussels open, around 5 minutes.
4. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened.
5. Drain the mussels, keeping the cooking liquid. Remove half the mussels from the shells, reserving the other half.
6. To another pan on a medium heat, add the mussel juices and the creme fraiche. Cook gently to reduce to a rich, creamy consistency, then add the mussels (shelled and unshelled) and parsley.
7. Add the courgette papardelle to the pan and toss in the sauce for a minute just before serving. Plate up quickly so the courgette doesn’t wilt too much.
8. Feel free to turn the veggie peeler on a slab of Parmesan to top!
A new survey results announced by Bord Bia show a strong national appreciation for Irish mussels, with a huge majority (94%) revealing they like to eat mussels.And as an island nation known for exceptional seafood, our booming mussel industry is now producing over 15,000 tons of mussels a year.The research also showed that while many of us eat mussels when dining out at a restaurant(92%) or on holiday (90%), fewer had tried to cook mussels at home (77%).In response, Bord Bia’s new ‘Flex Your Mussels’ campaign aims to show just how quick and easy it is to prepare delicious Irish mussels at home.
For more tips, videos and recipe inspiration, check out www.bordbia.ie/fish
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake Off and am passionate about creating and discovering delicious things. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.