SUSTAINABLE RECIPES: PORTARLINGTON BLUE MUSSELS STEAMED IN BEER WITH CHILLI & GARLIC
Welcome to our new blog series where we champion local and sustainable producers, growers and makers. A little disclaimer before I start - I’m no food blogger or qualified chef but I do consider myself a bit of foodie and a pretty good cook (if I do say so myself) so these are my own recipes but they won't be overly complicated. All recipes in this series will be made using as many local ingredients as possible, and of course being Melbourne based, will be mostly from Victoria. If you know any great markets or local producers in your area, please let us know in the comments, we would love to hear about what is going around Australia. And when we get our gardens happening we hope to include some home-grown ingredients!
Living in Melbourne, we are spoilt when it comes to easily accessible locally grown produce. No matter where you live in this city, there is a fresh produce market nearby. It’s such a privilege and delight to live in a town full of people passionate about food. This passion is reflected in a wider trend of Australian's becoming more interested in how our food system works and people genuinely wanting to know how the food they consume gets to their plate. When people think about a sustainable food chain, often seafood is forgotten but it's really important that we protect fish stock for future generations, as some of our marine life are endangered due to over fishing and other environmental impacts from the fishing industry. Sustainable Table have created a great e-book called 'The Good Fish Book' on how to choose the best most sustainable seafood along with recipes and tips on preparation, you can purchase from here. I also love the Sustainable Seafood Guide mobile app, handy when you're at the markets and are unsure what to buy.
The hero ingredient of this dish is of course the mussel. Port Phillip Bay happens to be one of the best spots to farm mussels in Australia. These little guys also happen to be cheap! They are usually around $5 per kilo at the fishmongers. The mussels I used in the recipe are from Portarlington in Victoria and I bought them from George the Fishmonger at Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne. 2 kg set me back $10 and should be enough to feed around 4 people. These mussels are commonly referred to as blue mussels and are grown on long submerged lines in the sea and are almost invisible from the surface. They have zero impact on the environment and filter algae and nutrients from the water.
As with most things these days I found Himmel Hund on Instagram, which either means I spend too much time on Instagram or it’s just a great platform for finding people who are doing awesome things (a bit of both I suspect!). I’m not the biggest beer drinker but I do enjoy the occasional drop especially on a hot summers day and I think beer really compliments most seafood. Himmel Hund is a great beer for those who aren’t big beer drinkers; it’s light, refreshing and has beautiful citrus notes. What caught my attention with Himmel Hund is the sustainable approach they are taking with planning their new brewery in Melbourne and has the admirable goal of becoming the greenest small brewery in Australia. The creator of this tasty brew, Annabel, is passionate about employing green practices and has thought deeply on how producing beer can impact the environment; you can read about it on her blog here.
Mussels have a really fresh salty sea flavour and are quite juicy which I think balances well with the slight bitterness of the beer. I love how the garlic creaminess is punctured with little hits of the spicey chilli. This is a fabulous winter dish and quick, easy meal to impress a large group of friends.
Hints and tips
Mussels should be stored in colander with a wet towel or paper over the top, pop a plate underneath as fresh mussels hold a lot of water. These can keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days (go by your nose) but as with all seafood it's best to eat on the day of purchase.
Contrary to popular belief, mussels that remain closed after cooking are still good to eat. Just pry them open carefully with a knife.
Blue mussels either have white flesh (male) or orange (female) and both can be eaten.
- 2kg blue mussels
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- A handful of parsley, chopped
- 1 red chill, chopped (reserve a teaspoon for serving)
- 1 tbs butter
- 100ml cream
- 330 ml of Himmel Hund Beer
Serves 4 as a light meal
- Prepare mussels by rinsing them under cold water, scrub shells to remove any grit. Make sure the beard of the mussel is removed (the beard is the fibres protruding from the shell) they can be pulled out with a little bit of force.
- Heat a large saucepan over high heat until hot. Add butter, chilli, garlic, shallots and thyme. Cook for 3 minutes until softened.
- Add mussels and beer to the pan, stir to combine ingredients. Place lid on pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until mussels open.
- Strain the liquid from mussels and place mussels in a serving bowl. Return the liquid to the pan. Bring to a gentle simmer and add cream. Reduce liquid down for around 1 minute.
- Pour liquid over the mussels. Scatter parsley and chilli over the mussels.
Serve with a crusty baguette
* We are a proud affiliate of Sustainable Table's e-book 'The Good Fish Book' and actively get behind any cause for the betterment of the environment. Just so you know, if you purchase via the link in this post, Urban Granola will receive compensation.