Fresh mussel is something i discovered in adulthood and love it ever since.
Growing up, my experience with mussels were not good. Mussels in Asia usually comes as dried goods and used as base for stock, soup and porridge. The region that produce it is warm and humid, hence the mussels fermented slightly during drying resulting in aggressive smell and taste that i resent as a kid. When i was teenager, we started to have foreign supermarkets selling frozen mussels that were usualy cooked. Roasting them with garlic butter was regarded as the right way to go.
Finally when i was 24, i encountered fresh mussels cooked in sea water with lemon and rosemary in a small Italian restaurant in Shizuoka near my house. That was game changing and i fell in love with it. Still, fresh mussel is uncommon in supermarket even in Japan, an island country.
Since the start of the pandemic, i began shopping online more and discover a website where i could order directly from farmers and fishermen. That was where i found fresh mussels! Funny enough, the mussels were sold by an oyster farmer in Hokkaido who said that the mussels were not farmed intentionally. Apparently, mussels like to stick around his oyster net. Well, with nice living place and stable source of food, can blame them. I ordered a case and absolutely loved them.
When i was planning for a small home party with my female coworkers, i remember that one of them said that she loves mussels too. So i search again, and this time i ordered from a proper mussel farmer in Kyoto as that was the only one available. Another coworker who is from France, once mentioned about mussels in cream sauce as a hearty dish from her region and i decided to try making it.
First the mussels need to be washed thoroughly and have its hairy bits pull out. It is recommended to discard any mussels that has it shell opened at this point as they are not fresh and could tarnish the stew. Into the frying pan, few sprigs of thyme, finely chopped garlic and purple onion were saute on low heat in olive oil and butter until brown before adding a splash of dry white wine. Increase the heat to high and stir in all the mussels and cooked with a lid on until all the mussels opened, usually around 5~7 minutes. Mussels that did not opened, again should be discarded.
Once all the mussels are cooked, pour in heavy cream and season well with sea salt. Stir it around to have them all covered with the sauce then transfer to an nice bowl for serving. Not to forget some crusty bread on the side to complete the dish. Everyone loved it!
(Whisper : I forgot to put bay leaf…but it was great still)