Last night I had my parents around for dinner to celebrate Dad’s birthday. As it was a work night dinner, I wanted to keep it simple, but still make it a memorable evening.
I decided on a bistro style meal. Mussels, with home-made potato chips (fries) to soak up the sauce. I also made a garden salad.
As my mother had never eaten mussels before, I went with a tomato based sauce with plenty of flavour. They took around 10 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook.
Mussels with Tomato and Basil
(From Seafood Kitchen, by Vicki Wild)
I’ve adapted this recipe only slightly from the original.
1 kg live mussels
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped.
2 tins of chopped tomatoes.
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped basil
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
Heat the oil in a wok and saute the onion and garlic. When the onion turns transparent, add the tomatoes, paste, parsley and basil. Simmer gently for around 5 minutes. Add the mussels and continue to simmer until the shells open. Discard any that do not open.
Oven baked potato chips with sea salt.
A lot of people enjoy crusty bread, but I prefer chips as an accompaniment for mussels. I wasn’t sure how to go about this, but I found a number of recipes on the net with potential. I ended up adapting this.
My recipe used the same method, but was simpler. I also increased the quantity because while the recipe claimed to serve 4 people, I was fairly sure that we would be wanting more.
8 large Pontiac potatoes
Preheat the oven to 400F (@210C). Arrange the baking racks to enable you to put two baking sheets at the very top of the oven.
Slice each potato into about 4 planks lengthwise, then cut each plank lengthwise into thirds. (of course you can change this to suit the size and shape chips you want),
Place in a single layer onto two baking sheets, leaving spaces between each chip so they will brown.
Drizzle with olive oil and turn chips to coat them completely.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the trays and turn the chips over. Swap the trays around so the one on the lower rack is now at the top.
Bake for another 25 minutes or until the edges are brown and crispy.
Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.
My parents loved these and they went perfectly with the mussels. They were hot, crisp and delicious.
Of course, serving mussels has its own problems. You need large deep bowls for the mussels, and another large bowl for the shells. I found this set of pasta bowls at David Jones. The pasta bowls were perfect for serving the mussels, and the large serving bowl was a great receptacle for the shells.