I am currently down in Schull, West Cork lazing around eating and drinking a few glasses of wine for the week. There is a pretty great posh fish and chip shop here on the pier called L’Escale where you get the days catch freshly served up to you. It’s yum. When we went we tried deep fried crab toes, monkfish and seafood lasagna and they were pretty tasty with a nice glass of white. Best of all you can sit out looking out over the pier as you eat.
I got into a bit of a fishy phase after this and got the notion to make moules mariniere that night. I bought my bag of mussels from town and went about making this really easy recipe. You should be able to get fresh mussels in any fish shop in any town. Mussels are actually pretty cheap and despite people having a mental block over cooking shellfish, this is quicker and easier than any piece of meat you might want to cook. I serve mine with tartar sauce to dip the chips into. The recipe was adapted from Trish Deseines book Nobody Does it Better, which I would highly recommend as a really easy guide to French cooking.
Ingredients (to serve two):
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
2 shallots (finely chopped)
1 handful of curley parsley (finely chopped)
1 ½ large glass white wine
3 rooster potatoes (other potatoes are fine if you can’t get these)
Sea Salt (I find Maldon sea salt flakes the best)
For tartar sauce:
4 tbsp mayonnaise
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp capers (chopped)
1 tsp vinegar (white wine vinegar preferable)
- The chips take the longest so put them on first. Heat the oven to 200C and cut the potatoes into fingers. Pat dry with kitchen paper and then throw into a baking dish and coat with some sunflower oil and salt. These will take about 30mins in total- while these are cooking prep for the mussels.
- Wash the mussels with a scrubbing brush removing all little “hairs” etc. With mussels there are only two rules. Firstly if there are any open mussels prior to cooking- throw them out. Only cook ones that are closed. Secondly, they should all open when cooked. If any remain closed after cooking- throw them out.
- Once the chips are cooked through (soft) then turn up the heat to about 220C (checking and turning regularly) so they crisp up a bit as the mussels cook.
- To make the tartar sauce to accompany the chips simply mix together the mayonnaise, capers, vinegar and juice of half a lemon.
- In a large deep pot heat the butter and oil, add shallots and garlic and let sweat with lid on. Add parsley, wine and black pepper and bring to the boil.
- Throw in the mussels and let cook for a 3-4 minutes. They are cooked when they are open. Turn mussels in pot once or twice when cooking.
- Serve in bowls or deep plates and ladle over the juices. Serve with chips and tartar sauce on the side.