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Missing New Zealand’s greenshell mussels…

April 12, 2012

New Zealand’s green shell mussels are pretty wonderful – delicious and super versatile, cheap, good for your tastebuds and the rest of you too. Do they have them in Sydney? Because that’s where I’m going in less than three weeks, for keeps!*

I’m sure Sydney will have plenty to keep me interested as a foodie, but nevertheless, tonight we had a bit of a tribute to New Zealand’s famously delicious green shell mussels, just boiled and topped with sauteed mushrooms, sweet red onions and salty olives. I wasn’t expecting it to be as delicious as it was, which is actually a bit reflective of how I feel about New Zealand at the moment. Like many kiwis I’ve done my fair share of moaning about being so far away from everything (“Why is that film still not out yet?!” “Why does this restaurant not have a website, is it from the 20th Century or something?!”), but then again, it’s close to friends and family and charming locals who remember you when you go for your weekly pain au chocolat. I will very much have trouble tearing myself away from this little, but truly wonderful, corner of the world I’ve called home.

Also, it’s a shame I won’t be posting many more mussel recipes, because they fit the ethos of the blog quite well (cheap, yummy, simple, healthy). Most often I just mix some melted butter, soy sauce and finely chopped garlic to drizzle over them, but I’ve also tried adding lemon slices and fennel to the cooking liquid. Will has developed a real lust for white wine mussel pies from Ocean Divine, and they are indeed amazing in a creamy white wine sauce.

The variations on this “recipe” are also plentiful – use feta in place of olives, add halved cherry tomatoes, or use charred chunks of eggplant in place of the mushrooms. You can chop things finer and add some tomato goop, chuck some cheese on and throw under the grill as well if you’re feeling extra decadent. You could even make this raw – chop up the onions and marinate with chopped mushrooms and olives in lemon juice, maybe a little extra virgin olive oil…Ok, so I might have a few more mussel nights actually! What are your favourite ways to eat mussels?

Mussels topped with yummy things

A guide for making as much or as little as you like.

Clean the mussels (only thing I won’t miss about mussels). Bring a pot of water (about 1/4 full will do) to a rapid boil, and chuck your mussels in (sorry mussels!). Cover and reduce heat to low, letting simmer for about five minutes until the mussels open up. Once cooked, remove mussels to a bowl and cover so they don’t dry out. Keep the cooking liquid (freeze if you must) for either a seafood stock or soup. Very yummy with spring onions.

Meanwhile, chop a red onion finely,* some mushrooms (I used boring white button mushrooms) into small bite size pieces, and some of your favourite marinated olives (preferably freshly pitted, but I don’t blame you if you can’t be bothered…just don’t get those awful plastic-y black things that come pre sliced too). Drizzle a frypan with olive oil and fry the onions and mushrooms on a high heat on a single layer until the mushrooms and onions brown. Turn off heat, stir through olives, and use this mixture to top your mussels. You could even make a bit of a bruschetta out of this, which would be lovely.

Don’t add any salt to the cooking water or topping, as both are already pretty salty on their own!

*If you’ve got regular onions on hand add a hearty pinch or two of sugar, these need a little sweetness I think.

Currently Clickalicious

Soy salmon with an avocado, lime, wasabi salsa @ Pease Pudding

Parmesan pancakes with smoked salmon and lemony creme fraiche @ With Love, Mags

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Walnut cake with chocolate whipped cream @ Big Girls Small Kitchen

*In case you’re wondering, yes of course I’ll keep food blogging. I did mention I was going to Sydney right?! I’ve got my first full time job, so will no longer be confined to a student budget, but will still keep things nice and accessible most of the time. I actually find that cooking with a few restrictions is far more exciting anyway :)

13 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2012 11:16 pm

    Congratulations on that first full-time job. My favorite way to eat mussels? In restaurants! I had some with white wine and chorizo that were awfully good once.

  2. April 12, 2012 11:24 pm

    I’m almost certain there’ll be imported NZ mussels in Sydney so you’ll feel right at home!
    Congratulations on the job by the way!

  3. peasepudding permalink
    April 13, 2012 12:12 am

    Thanks for the click! Hey Zo we might get to meet in Sydney then, I’m there a lot lately, email me where you are moving to. Our office is Paramatta but I like to head out to the Northern beaches

  4. Jean-François permalink
    April 13, 2012 6:51 am

    Congratulations on the job. As for mussels, I like mine with a little white wine and garlic. Must say, I’ve never tried (or seen) the green shelled ones before – one more reason to visit New Zealand.

  5. April 13, 2012 7:11 am

    Congratulations and commiserations appear to be in order. NZ’s loss is Aussie’s gain (sigh, so often we hear this). Best of luck for the move, and KEEP BLOGGING!

  6. April 13, 2012 12:15 pm

    All the best for you move!

  7. Pip permalink
    April 14, 2012 1:55 pm

    We’ve got NZ mussels up in Darwin. You can get frozen, shucked mussels from the deli section of the supermarket. Haven’t seen any live ones but I suspect you’ll get them in Sydney as Tim was quite suprised there weren’t any up here.

  8. April 15, 2012 6:54 am

    Congrats on the move. We’re going there on a trip next year, will hit you up for restaurant suggestions. Or just keep reading the blog! I wish mussels were cheap here!

  9. April 15, 2012 11:32 am

    TKC: Ooo yes I’ve heard they are excellent with chorizo.

    L: That’s good news…I’m willing to bet they’ll be a bit pricier though!

    P: Oh that would be so awesome to meet you! I’ll be in town but I have yet to visit the beaches so if I can I’d love to go anyway. Will let you know when we’ve moved into a proper flat, I think the first month will be pretty hectic.

    J-F: I think you would love New Zealand for more than just the mussels :) Although they are very nice – a bit sweeter, less bitter and more tender than the black ones.

    G: Will definitely keep blogging! Thanks for the encouragement, it’s nice to be appreciated!

    IK: Thanks!

    P: Ah, but nothing beats the fresh ones :D Although it’s good to know they have them frozen for mussel chowders etc, so thanks Pip.

    R: Ohh, you will love it! I really only know about Chch restaurants and eateries, but I know a fair few other foodies around the country so don’t hesitate to flick me an email about it.

  10. April 16, 2012 7:11 pm

    Congrats. I enjoy your blog when I have time. Check out my neice in laws blog. She is going very upmarket and spends money of food that I wouldn’t dream of
    Keep writing though I do enjoy your style and Sydney food is wonderful

  11. Bunny Eats Design permalink
    April 17, 2012 1:50 pm

    Congrats on the big move and the full time job.

    While there might be some foods you will miss, there are many foods in Sydney that are better and cheaper than here. Fresh banana prawns here you come! We don’t get prawns in New Zealand, so it’s always a delight when I visit countries where prawns are fresh rather than frozen.

    I love mussels too. I know they’re not for everyone (I have a few friends/family that aren’t so keen), but I guess it’s always nice when we cook them up just for us.

    As a kid, my parents would just steam them and we’d add a little soy sauce to a half shell and eat and dip. With a hot bowl of steamed rice, it was easy and healthy. Nowdays I usually add fat and other kinds of seafood for full-on creamy seafood feast.

  12. April 17, 2012 11:09 pm

    R: Thanks Rosie, I’ve got Trina’s blog in my Google Reader already actually!

    B: Thanks, and yes I’m looking forward to eating prawns again (I’m a bit concerned about the way the imported ones are caught). Also the Moreton Bay Bugs are freakin awesome.

    My parents did that as well, although they’d add vinegar too which I never liked very much. Mmm, you’re really making me want a creamy seafood pie now :D

  13. October 11, 2012 7:17 pm

    That’s very nice post, i love this post,thanks for sharing.

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