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I simply adore steamed mussels. When it comes to mussels, freshness is key, so ask your local fishmonger to special-order them for you, if possible. They should smell and taste subtly “of the sea,” with a beautifully tender texture. In this recipe the mussels are steamed in a white wine broth full of Asian flavors: soy sauce, ginger, lemongrass and Szechwan peppercorn, while mustard greens add just the right hint of heat. Serve with ginger aioli and plenty of bread to mop up the delicious broth.
3 pounds very fresh mussels 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc 2 tablespoons soy sauce 4 slices fresh ginger 1 stalk lemon grass, thinly sliced 6 Szechwan peppercorns 2 cups mustard greens, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
Wash the mussels well and remove the beards. Set aside in the refrigerator.
In a large heavy saucepan, heat the wine and soy sauce over high heat. Add the ginger, lemon grass and peppercorns and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the mustard greens and mussels, toss together and cook until the mussels open 3 to 5 minutes.
To serve, Spoon the mussels, mustard greens and broth into bowls and serve with the Grilled Bread with Ginger Aioli.
GRILLED BREAD AND GINGER AIOLI 1 egg yolk 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/2 cup olive oil 1/2 cup peanut, vegetable, corn or safflower oil 1 teaspoon sesame oil 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar Salt and freshly ground black pepper 6 slices coarse textured bread
In a small bowl, whisk the yolk, mustard and 1 tablespoon olive oil together until an emulsion is formed. Combine the olive oil, peanut oil and sesame oil. Drop by drop, add the oil to the emulsion, whisking constantly. Continue to do this, drop by drop, in a steady stream, whisking, until all of the oil has been added. Do not add the oil too quickly and be sure that the emulsion is homogeneous before adding more oil. Add the garlic, ginger, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Thin the mayonnaise slightly by adding 2 tablespoons water, whisking constantly.
Grill, toast or broil the bread until light golden. Top with a dollop of the Ginger Aioli and tuck into the side of the bowl of mussels. Makes 1 cup Ginger Aioli and serves 6
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