Mussels - Straight from Mother Nature
Mussels, as well as oysters, are cultivated mainly in the province ofZeeland, in the southwest of Holland. They begin their life up north in the Wadden Sea. Dutch mussel farming has developed into an industry which now produces more than 100 million kilos of mussels every year. Most of these are exported to Belgium and France. The Dutch mussel industry is capable of providing a daily supply of mussels from the storage plots regardless of weather conditions. You can visit Europe’s only mussel auction when you’re in Zeeland in Yerseke, a small port on the Oosterschelde Estuary, which specializes in oyster and mussel beds.
Mussels are usually cooked by steaming them on a bed of fresh vegetables in white, wine and eaten with French bread or French fries. There are many other ways of preparing mussels, all to be tasted at restaurants throughout the country. Mussels are not only rich in protein and glycogen, but they are full of vitamins and minerals. The mussel season in Holland begins in late July and goes through to March.
Here are simple instructions for preparing mussels:
- 4 kg fresh mussels
- 1 large onion
- 1 large carrot
- small bunch parsley
- few celery tops
- ground pepper
Clean the mussels thoroughly in cold, running water. Discard any which are already open. Peel and slice the onion and carrot and put the sliced vegetables, parsley and celery tops into a large pan. Fill the pan with cleaned mussels and cook them over a gentle heat, shaking the pan from time to time, until all the shells have opened. Remove any mussels which refuse to open. Keep the first batch of mussels warm and cook the rest in the same way. Strain the cooking liquid and mix with prepared mustard and vinegar to make a sauce.
Remove the first mussel from its shell with a fork and use the EMPTY SHELL as a pair of tongs to remove the remaining mussels. Dip them in the mustard sauce and enjoy! Serve the mussels and sauce with plenty of fresh French bread or French fries.
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