Tuesday, January 24, 2012


If you, like me, are a huge fan of Northwest seafood, you should definitely try this recipe. Even if you're just a fan of seafood in general, and don't live in the Northwest, you should give it a shot! It is from the Momofuku cookbook- a book that I have tried a few recipes from, and each has been perfect in every way.

The pork buns, which no-one should eat on a regular basis, are especially delicious in a sweet-salty-umami-porky way. In spite of knowing that the buns are made with lard, I eat at least three whenever the occasion arises. As you all know, I live near Seattle; far, far away from any Momofuku outpost, so the only occasion I get is when I make them myself!

But that, my children, is a different story for a different day: today we eat mussels. Like oysters, they seem to be in their prime when the water is coldest. I bought some gorgeous ones from Metropolitan Market this afternoon out of Penn Cove. Luscious! The shells were perfect, and though some of the meats were a bit on the small side, they were absolutely worth every penny. Minterbrook Oyster Company also carries fabulous mussels if you happen to be out that way.

Pan-Roasted Mussels with Denjang and Sake

yield: 4 servings
1/3 cup denjang, or shiro (white) miso
2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
2 Tbs. minced peeled fresh ginger
2 Tbs. sliced scallions (greens and whites)
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3-4 lbs. mussels
1/4 c. grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 c. dry sake
Clean the mussels: Put them in a large bowl of cold water and let them sit for a few minutes to purge any grit, then scrub their shells clean of debris, and pull off the ‘beards’ using a motion that drags the beard down towards the hinge, not up towards the opening. This keeps the creature alive longer- pulling upwards dislodges their stomach and they die instantly. Mix together the denjang/miso, sherry vinegar, ginger, sliced scallions, and garlic cloves in a small bowl. Set aside.
Pour the oil into a deep wide pot with a lid that will later comfortable accommodate all the mussels, and set over high heat. After a minute or so, when the oil is hot but not smoking, add the mussels. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the sake. Cover the pot and steam the mussels until they’ve all opened, about 4 minutes.
Remove the lid from the pot, scoot all the mussels to one side, and add the denjang mixture to the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Stir to incorporate it, which should happen rather quickly, then toss the mussels to coat them with the sauce and pan juices.
Using a large spoon, transfer the mussels to four deep bowls. Discard any mussels that did not open. Pour the broth-sauce from the pot over the mussels, and garnish each portion with a heavy dose of black pepper and some of the julienned scallions. Serve at once- alone or with steamed rice.

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