A gorgeously rich dish, both high in nutrients and flavour, this classic French dish is an easy and quick meal that tastes as good as it looks!
So here’s the thing: I’m actually allergic to seafood!
Yep, for as long as I can remember, I’ve never been able to eat the stuff. However, several years back when I was pregnant I was taken out for a meal to a fancy restaurant and tucking into what I assumed were some deep-fried chicken balls, I was shocked to hear that I was actually chowing down on prawn balls!
My initial fear (that my body’s adverse reaction to seafood was about to kick in) turned into shock when I realised that nothing was happening!
My throat wasn’t itching, my lips hadn’t started blistering, and I definitely wasn’t sneezing, all symptoms which would immediately happen if I got so much as got a whiff of seafood.
I recall working in Bluebird restaurant on the King’s Road some life time ago and not even lasting a week there, not because of the awkwardness felt from having to seat people I knew but because of the copious amount of seafood openly displayed right in the middle of the floor!
I couldn’t understand why nothing was happening but immediately put it down to hormones.
I didn’t eat any more of the prawn balls that night, despite the fact that nothing adverse was taking place within my body. However, over the next couple of weeks, I did – rather cautiously – try seafood a few more times and despite the fact that nothing bad happened to me, I couldn’t quite get my head round things sufficiently to be able to relax and decide if I actually enjoyed the taste of fish.
The truth is that as a result of always being allergic to seafood, I wasn’t able to enjoy those few attempts at eating fish as the expectation of an adverse reaction prevented me from doing so.
Furthermore, as much as I’d always said that if there was ever a time that I was able to eat seafood, I would definitely try lobster with melted butter (it just looks so good!), when I did get the window of opportunity to do so, I really didn’t like the taste.
Fish tasted no different to the few times I had either eaten it by mistake or had been forced to eat it by my family back in Nigeria (cruel, I know) which meant that my allergy had not impaired or altered the true flavour of seafood at all.
Fish just tastes like… fish.
Anyway, the allergy has since returned but no longer to the extent as before, which is good.
Unlike before, I can now be in the same house – even the same room – where certain fish is being cooked, but that’s about it.
Mussels are fine but things like tuna and kippers are not.
At least I can say I’ve finally tried it but, for now, it looks like my rather short relationship with seafood is well and truly done!
Anyhow, a while back when I was hungry and had too much time to spare (which nowadays is rare!), I wandered past the fishmongers in my local supermarket and saw some live lobsters, lying there with their claws taped up and everything!
My desire for fresh lobster dipped in butter returned, only to be swiftly squashed by my anxiety and fears about what might happen.
I chickened out of buying those dangerous looking lobsters but, fully aware of the healthy omega oils and protein content in fish, I made the decision to give it a go, albeit a wimpy one.
So I opted for a bag of mussels, added a couple of bottles of wine to my basket (one to cook the mussels in and the other one to guzzle down for some Dutch courage to cook them) and continued with rest of my shopping. (Seriously, never go food shopping whilst hungry as it rarely ends well for your wallet or waistline. I only went to buy a couple of scotch eggs!)
When I got home I googled how to cook mussels in wine and cream – as that’s what I fancied – and got cracking.
I’d already known from previous Google visits how to prepare mussels (click here to read my ‘How to Clean and Prepare Mussels’ post), so I had no issues there and in less than no time, I had me a bowl of garlic and wine, aka Moules Mariniére!
With a packet of antihistamine in one hand and a fork in the other, I cautiously put the fork into the bowl, pulled out a mussel, slowly brought the fork to my mouth and bit into the mussel…
As I chewed the solitary mussel like someone doing an ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’ challenge, I noticed the allergic reaction ever so slightly rear its ugly head, but not before realising that what I was eating actually tasted quite good!
Thankfully I had a friend who, with perfect timing, knocked on the front door and seeing the piping hot and fresh bowl of mussels I was about to throw in the bin, literally grabbed the bowl from my hand and devoured the contents in no time at all.
His facial expression whilst eating, coupled with his positive comments about the flavour of the mussels were more than enough to console me over the fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy seafood as even though I can’t eat the stuff, I sure can cook it!
I bought some more mussels a few days later to make my ‘Mussels with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Zughetti‘ post, which also went down a treat with my seafood loving friend and as a result, made the feeder in me extremely happy.
As for my relationship with seafood…
I guess for now ‘ll just have to get my vitamins and nutrients elsewhere.
- 2lb live mussels
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 3 clove garlic, chopped
- ½ cup double cream / coconut cream
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- Bunch fresh parsley, chopped
- In a pot, add the butter and heat (medium setting) until melted. Add the shallots along with the garlic and sauté for a few minutes until softened.
- Add the wine, salt, pepper and half the parsley to the pot, stir together and cook for a few minutes until the wine reduces somewhat. Add the mussels, cover the pot with a lid and with the heat turned higher, allow to cook for approximately six minutes or until the mussel shells have opened (any longer will result in rubbery mussels).
- If adding the cream, do so at this point and cook for approximately a further minute.
- Remove the mussels from the pot with a spoon.. Don’t pour the mussels out as you want to ensure that any sand remains at the bottom of the pot.
- Place the mussels in a bowl and in a separate container, slowly pour the remaining broth in order to not disturb any sand and grit that has settled at the bottom.
- If necessary, sieve the broth further to remove any grit before pouring over the mussels.
- Pour the broth over the mussels and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the mussels and serve immediately.
- (If you haven’t prepared fresh mussels before, do go to my ‘How to Clean and Prepare Mussels’ post before cooking.)
- Studies have shown that it may be perfectly okay to consume mussels that remain closed after being cooked.