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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mussels in a Saffron Tomato Cream Broth

I'm sure everyone has a similar story ... But when my boyfriend was a little boy, he got a blue highlighter (blue is his favorite color) that he was so excited about that he wanted to save it for a special occasion. He kept saving it and saving it. By the time he tried to use it, it was all dried out. :( So whenever we have something we're trying to save for a "special occassion", we have to tell ourselves "highlighter!" and make ourselves use it. I tend to do this alot when it comes to meats in our freezer or other special ingredients. Then I end up with freezer-burned meat. Yuck! It would have just been better to use it when I thought of it. I also have some free Starbucks coffee coupons from the VIA challenge that I should use, especially since those expire mid November. Anyways, back in August, I went to Greece and picked up some Santorini tomato paste and Greek saffron, but have been saving it to try make Bouillabaisse. "Highlighter!!!!" ... So since I had a bunch of leftover chopped shallots and garlic from my boyfriend's birthday dinner, I decided on a quick mussels dinner. As long as I'm at it, I ended up throwing in some spinach leftover from a week ago that still looked fresh enough.

Mussels are a great for a quick inexpensive dinner. It only takes about 5 minutes to steam open. Seriously easy! It looks impressive to make for guests, but it only costs about $3/lb at any decent Manhattan market. But if you're close to Chinatown, or already there, its only $3 for a 2lb bag! Though I've noticed that Chinatown ones are a bit gritty, so you have to make sure to incubate them with some cornmeal for about 30 minutes to get rid of the dirt in the mussels (when you do this the mussels will exchange will spit out the dirt and exchanges it for cornmeal).

Recipe for Mussels in a Saffron Tomato Cream Broth

2 lbs Mussels
2 T butter
2 large shallots, chopped (appx 1/2 cup)
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
2 T double strength tomato paste
1 T or more Red Pepper Flakes
1 tomato, chopped
1 T Soy Sauce (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bunch of spinach (optional)

If you think the mussels are going to be sandy/gritty, place mussels in large bowl or pot cover with cold water and about 2 T of cornmeal. Leave for at least 1 hour. Then drain and rinse with cool water.

Saute shallots and garlic in butter over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold all the mussels. I usually throw in some salt so that these sweat instead of brown. Cook until softened. Add white wine and cook down until reduced to half the volume. Add saffron threads, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and chopped tomato. Cook until bubbling again. Then add mussels, mix around, and cover pot. It should not take too long for the mussels to open. I usually check every two minutes and then mix it around so all the mussels can be closest to the bottom (heat source) and open up. If you cook mussels too long, they shrink alot and get a bit chewy. After most of the mussels have open (about 4 minutes on my stove), mix in the soy sauce, cream, and spinach. Mix until the spinach has just wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste. I tend to like my mussels salty, since it gives a briny ocean taste to the plate. My boyfriend doesn't like "American" salt, but can take alot of soy sauce, which is still high in sodium, but okay since he's Japanese. This explains the soy sauce in the broth!

Serve over pasta or with a crust bread to mop up all the yummy sauce!

All done! Gochisousama deshita~~~!


Anonymous said...

The Saffron Tomato Cream Broth sounds amazing!

Anonymous said...

Mmm! Never made tomato cream broth w/ Saffron before! I'll have to try it!

Jenn said...

Yes please try it! I keep thinking I need to use that Saffron, it seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Frank said...

Looks really delicious. Love steamed mussels!

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