Day 1: Mussels in White Wine and Japanese Rare Tuna

by katerina on August 24, 2008

Yesterday was a near perfect day. So simple but oh so good. In the morning we went to the local farmers market and picked up some tomatoes, beets, squash and fennel as well as some local short ribs and a beef roast. Then we lunched in the sun with beers and burgers. After lunch it was down to the marina to buy some seafood off of the fish boat. We choose some fresh mussels and sashimi grade tuna. (Mussels, yeay something I have never cooked before!) We spent the unexpectedly nice afternoon digging out our patio-to-be and made some good progress. Then I went for a walk\run beside the ocean and started a new book. Anyone out there read the Dark Tower series?

We finished the day off with the mussels cooked in white wine and a ton of bread. They were so good I got out a spoon to make sure none of the sauce went to waste. We followed that off with the tuna and squash, marinated in olive oil and then briefly grilled, served with a Japanese style dipping sauce. Oh, yeah and wine. So much wine in fact that I am regretting it now.

Did I mention that one of the zucchinis was from my garden? The 8-ball. The only salvageable vegetable I got out of it after the destruction and chaos left by the deer. So sad, but it grilled up nice.

This was the first time I have cooked mussels at home and I was surprised by just how easy it was. I wasn’t so worried about the cooking but rather the cleaning of the mussels. However, even the cleaning was pretty easy once I did the research, or so I am told, J actually did the work. I read up about it on Cooks Illustrated as well as Beyond Salmon. I also used their techniques for grilling the tuna which turned out perfectly rare on the inside. I call it Japanese tuna because it is a bastardized tuna tataki with a faked ponzu sauce. But oh so good. You really can eat like a king in the comfort of your own home.

[print_this]Mussels in White Wine
(serves 1-2 as an appetizer)

1lb mussels, scrubbed, washed and debearded
1/2C white wine
1 clove garlic minced
1T shallot minced
1 bay leaf
1/4C water
1T minced fresh parsley
1T cold butter

Place all ingredients except the mussels and butter in a pot with a lid. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. Bring mixture to a boil, add mussels and cover. Cook for about 4-8 minutes. (Time will depend on the size of your pot and mussels.) You will know when they are ready because they will have opened – a built in timer. Discard any that haven’t opened. Remove the mussels to a serving dish. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and a few grinds of pepper – pour over the mussels. Serve immediately with crunchy bread.

To clean the mussels:
When you bring them home from the store make sure you don’t store them in a plastic bag. They won’t be able to breath and will suffocate. Either store them in a colander with a damp cloth over top or a bowl with a damp cloth over top and make sure it isn’t completely covering so they can breath.
Fill a bowl with cold water, add a few teaspoons of salt and a small handful of oatmeal (I didn’t have cornmeal, but if you did – from everything I read use that). Place the mussels in the bowl and the bowl in the fridge for a few hours. Before you are ready to cook remove to the sink and give each mussel a good brushing with a dish scrubber. Debeard the mussels. To do this grab the fibrous beard on the outside of the mussel and pull. Note: I have read some commercial mussels do not have beards but most of ours did.[/print_this]

Grilled Tuna with a Japanese Dipping Sauce
(serves 2)

1 tuna steak
olive oil
salt and pepper
soy sauce
green onion
sesame oil
lemon juice

Marinate the tuna steak in a few tablespoons of olive oil for a few hours or overnight. Remove from the marinade, pat dry, and cover with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Oil and preheat your grill to high. Grill the tuna directly for 2 minutes, then flip it and grill for another 1 minute. Let it cool for a few minutes and then slice. While the tuna is cooling mix together approximately 1 clove of minced garlic, a thinly sliced scallion, a dash of sesame, half a lemon juiced and some soy sauce. Taste and correct. Serve the tuna, garnished with scallion, with the sauce on the side.

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