Monday Is…Faceless Fish Night!

Quickie meal before a 2 hour art class– steamed mussels and clams (because I love clams), crusty baguette and a simple green salad.  Are you not impressed that my 12 year old actually eats mussels and prefers them over clams?  He even knows how to use an empty shell as pincers.  It’s a Belgian preparation and if I have only mussels and happen to also have a bag of shoestring fries in the freezer, I’ll pop those in the oven to serve with mayonnaise and we’ll have moules frites.  (The mayo freaks here LOVE that version).

This is one of my “don’t-use-a-recipe” dishes, but I actually tried to estimate and measure tonight.  Here’s my starting place:

The basics…

Steamed Mussels and Clams in Pernod, White Wine, Lemon and Other Good Things

  • 4 lbs fresh mussels and clams (I soak mine in ice water with a little cornmeal prior to rinsing and scrubbing)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, about 1 cup diced
  • 2 large shallots, about 1/3 to 1/2 cup diced
  • 4-5 minced cloves, about 1 1/2 TB
  • 3 TB unsalted butter (I always use unsalted butter when I cook and bake, EXCEPT for toffee)
  • 1 TB Pernod (not shown, it’s OK if you don’t have it, but it’s another layer of flavor)
  • large handful of chopped parsley, about 1 cup, divided
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 to 1 cup white wine

Here’s everything chopped:

Prepped and ready to go!

You’ll need a tall pot with a good-fitting lid to keep the steam in while you cook the shellfish.  Melt the butter til foaming, then add the shallots.

Add shallots to foaming butter

Cook til shallots have softened, then add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the tomatoes and half the parsley.

Add the rest of the veg

Add the Pernod (it will smell incredibly of licorice) and stir; the alcohol will burn off quickly.

Pernod – very French!

Then add the lemon juice (or just squeeze it in like I do!)

Just a little lemon juice

By now, the tomatoes should have broken down:

Tomatoes are chunky and soft

So add in the white wine,

Tantalizing aroma…

and let it come to a boil:

The flavor pot!

Finally, it’s time to add our jewels of the sea.  Make sure you have thrown out any shellfish that has opened (because they’re DEAD and potentially TOXIC).

Gems of the ocean!

Clamp on a lid, and steam 7-10 minutes, shaking periodically.  The meal’s ready when the shells are opened.  Remove any clams or mussels that did not open, tumble contents of the pot into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Don’t forget the broth!

We eat our faceless fish in big pasta bowls so we can sop up all that yummy broth:

Big bowl of broth for dunking!


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Filed under Family, Food, Main Dishes

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