I’ve been on quite a shellfish kick lately. In the span of a month, I’ve eaten mussels and clams almost every time I’ve had dinner out, from French-style mussels steamed in white wine at a local hangout to Chinese clams with black bean sauce at dim sum. Maybe it’s because of spring and warmer temps, but restaurants have been putting up seafood specials left and right, and I happily indulge.
Fortunately, living near two good seafood markets means I can decide on whim to have mussels and clams for dinner and just walk down the street to pick them up. A couple of days ago, I decided to do an easy meal of mussels with ginger and shallots, steamed with Chinese rice wine.
Sometimes I cook mussels with Chinese black beans and chili paste, but this time I opted for forgo heavier flavorings in favor of a lighter dish. Chinese rice wine, much like a dry white wine in preparing moules marinière, compliments and shows off the sweet brininess of the fresh mussels. And once you debeard the mussels, the actual cooking time is super quick.
Another reason to love this: the simple flavorings means that is one Chinese dish that easily pairs with most drinks, including beer, white wine, Lambrusco, and gin rickeys.
And fellow seafood fans, let me know in the comments: Do you have a favorite way of cooking mussels?
Steamed Mussels with Ginger and Shallots
Serves 4 as an appetizer
- 2 pounds mussels
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced or chopped
Special equipment: wok or large skillet with lid
- Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold water, changing the water several times, to remove any grit. Debeard the mussels by removing the stringy bits in the seam where the two shells meet as best you can. Discard any mussels with cracked shells or any with open shells that don’t close when you gently tap them against the counter.
- Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates contact. Add the oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the ginger and shallots and stir-fry until aromatic, about 30 to 40 seconds. Add the rice wine and fish sauce. Carefully add the mussels and cover with a lid. Allow the mussels to steam for 5 minutes, then uncover. Stir in the white pepper.
- Discard any mussels that have not opened, then transfer to a serving dish along with the broth remaining in the pan. Sprinkle the scallions on top and serve.