Enjoy mussels – a true hero food – in Mussel, Ginger and Lemongrass Gratin
From Daniel Galmiche’s Revolutionary French Cooking.
Mussels are one of those foods that we really should be eating more of. Completely sustainable, and therefore much better for the environment, they are also a much cheaper protein source than most meat or fish. Not to mention the fact that they taste great and are season right now. Moules marinière is the classic way to cook them – and a very good way at that – but mussels in a gratin with a creamy, aromatic sauce flavoured with lemongrass, ginger and fresh coriander is rather delicious, too. Mussels are easy to cook, just make sure that they are very fresh and throw away any with broken shells before cooking and those that don’t open once cooked. Don’t forget a fresh baguette or homemade chips to dip into the sauce – it wouldn’t be the same without them!
Mussel, Ginger and Lemongrass Gratin
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
3kg/6lb 8oz mussels, rinsed
40g/1½oz unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised
50g/1¾oz piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
250ml/9fl oz/1 cup not too acidic or dry white wine, perhaps an Alsace or Riesling
2 handfuls of coriander leaves, chopped
200ml/7fl oz/scant 1 cup fish stock
400ml/14fl oz/scant 1⅔ cups whipping cream
50g/1¾oz pecorino cheese, grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Thoroughly scrub the mussels under cold running water and rinse well. Remove the beards by pulling them towards the large part of the shell. If any of the mussels are open, tap them hard against a work surface and if they don’t close, discard them.
2. Generously butter four flameproof 18cm/7in gratin dishes. Heat a large, deep saucepan over a medium heat. Add the oil, shallot, lemongrass and ginger and fry for 2–3 minutes until just softened but not coloured. Turn the heat up to high, add the wine and cook until reduced by one-third, allowing the alcohol to evaporate. Add the mussels and half the coriander leaves, cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes at the very most, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels have opened. Discard any that remain closed. Remove from the heat and scoop all the mussels into a colander using a slotted spoon. Leave to cool slightly before shelling them. Discard the shells.
3. Spoon the shelled mussels into the prepared gratin dishes and put on a grill tray. Strain the juices from the pan and bowl through a fine sieve into a measuring jug. Reserve 200ml/7fl oz/scant 1 cup of the liquid.
4. Preheat the grill to high. Pour the mussel liquid into a sauté pan and add the stock and cream. Put over a low heat and bring almost to the boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes until reduced by half and thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season with pepper to taste and a little salt, if necessary.
5. Ladle the cream sauce over the mussels in the gratin dishes. Sprinkle the remaining coriander on top, then finish with a sprinkling of cheese, making sure the cheese covers the coriander so that it doesn’t discolour. Put under the hot grill for a minute or so until bubbling and golden brown. Serve hot.
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