Floating in creamy wine sauce and studded with caramelized fennel, shallots and garlic, the sweetest, most beautiful green-lipped mussels you'll ever see or taste are just a few minutes away.
For me, mussels have always been about the sauce or topping. They were merely a vehicle for whatever deliciousness they were floating in. And I had no complaints about this strategy.
Until a new species of mussels moved into my culinary neighborhood.
New Zealand Mussels, or greenshell mussels, are larger than the typical black mussels we're used to seeing in grocery stores and restaurants. Outside of New Zealand (where they sell these fresh mussels), these beauties are often sold frozen on the half shell. They are usually already blanched and packaged in a one or two-pound box.
First of all, the flavor is remarkable. They are sweeter and more tender than their near cousins, with a milder, less briny flavor. And these half-shell mussels are so much larger than black mussels, the eating experience is surprisingly luxurious.
In researching these new-to-me mussels, I discovered that they also contain more more health benefits than your typical bowl of mussels. In addition to being a good source of zinc, green mussels have a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. So high, in fact, that they sell a joint pain supplement using these New Zealand mussel extracts.
So basically, making this recipe is like taking your vitamins. With a creamy wine sauce and grilled baguette. Which is the only way I'll be taking vitamins from this point forward.
What you'll need to make these New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels:
- green mussels
- seafood stock
- white wine
- bay leaves
- fresh fennel
- fresh garlic
- heavy cream
- Sea salt and black pepper
- red pepper flakes, optional
- fresh parsley, for garnish
Step by step instructions for making this mussel recipe:
To begin, clean and slice your fennel, shallots and garlic. I find that fennel looks best when it is halved through the core, then quartered, and sliced.
Next, heat the butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add thinly sliced fennel and a pinch of salt.
Sauté until the sliced fennel begins to caramelize - about 10 minutes. (Leave the fennel undisturbed to accelerate the process. Frequent stirring keeps the veggies from browning!)
When the fennel starts browning, add the shallots, which will only take a few minutes to cook through. Add the sliced garlic cloves.
Sauté for 2 minutes. Add wine and stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
Increase the burner to medium-high heat and simmer the broth for about 5-6 minutes, until it has reduced by about half. Add the heavy cream and cooked green mussels.
Cover the pot and let the mussels heat through - about 3-5 minutes. (remember that these mussels are already blanched, so the cooking process is just a matter of reheating them in the flavorful broth.)
Garnish with parsley. Serve with lemons, grilled crusty bread and fries.
FAQ's for New Zealand Mussels with Caramelized Fennel and Shallot:
Absolutely. Black mussels are usually sold in a full shell and uncooked, so be sure to cook them in the broth until the shells open, indicating the mussels are fully cooked. If any shells remain closed, those mussels should be discarded.
Frozen mussels work beautifully in this recipe - just thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before using. I prefer not to soak frozen mussels in water to accelerate the defrosting, because I want to save any natural extra liquid in the mussels to add a briny flavor to the final dish.
Fennel adds a unique flavor to this dish - if you don't have any, using extra shallots works in its place, although the flavor profile will be more muted.
I'm obsessed with these Parmesan cheese truffle fries as the perfect partner for this simple recipe. Grilled bread is a non-negotiable, as this brothy mussels recipe is begging for a carby partner. For vegetable sides, a simple Mediterranean salad or fresh gazpacho salad would be lovely accompaniments.
To store, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator up to 48 hours.
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