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personal chef, david cooks dinner, colorado springs, denver, gather food studio

Everyday I'm Musselin'

I'm sure you've heard they saying, "War is good for the economy", but it has also been paramount in the development of American cuisine; as well as popularizing ethnic food in the US.  Believe it or not, the Mussels boom in America is largely in thanks to WW2.  Back during the 1930's and World War 2 when food was scarce, or had to be rationed out between citizens here and the GI's abroad, a whole new generation of cooking/cookbooks came out with new ideas on how to feed your family and stretch the food you had.  If you've ever seen any depression era or "wartime edition" cookbooks, you'll notice a shift in recipes to contain a lot of fillers, offal meats, jellied salads, an emphasis on eggs, suggestions on sugar replacements, etc... Though mussels had already been around in American diets for quite some time, the scarcity of red meat during the depression and the war left Americans looking for a cheaper and alternate protein source.  Mussels were abundant and cheap and began popping up on restaurant menus all over the country... and lucky for us, they were a huge hit and became a significant part of modern American cuisine!

I hope you enjoy today's recipes!  Though they do feature the mussels, all 3 of the recipes are uniquely un-American.  Bouillabaisse has its roots in Marseille, (but really all over the Mediterranean), Scampi (which actually refers to a langoustine) is Italian. * Fun Fact - The Italian immigrants to America actually starting using shrimp as an alternative to langoustine, so Shrimp Scampi is a redundancy, and actually means shrimp langoustine.  And Massaman curry - well, that's a whole other story.  Persian influcenced, but Siamese curry dish.  Mussels actually showed up in Thailand way way back in the early days of port travel and trade between Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Mussels Bouillabaisse

• 2 T. oil

• 1 shallot, sliced

• 7 cloves garlic, smashed

• red pepper flakes, to taste

• 1 tsp anise seed

• ½ fennel, sliced

• 1 carrot, small diced

• 1 celery rib, small diced

• ½ C .white wine

• 4 C. fish stock

• 2 C. san Marzano tomato puree

• 1 T. hot sauce

• Saffron, generous pinch

• Salt and pepper, as you go, always.

• 2 # mussels

• 3 T. chopped parsley

• Lemon wedges

• Toasted Baguette

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the red pepper flakes and anise seed, and toast for 20-30 seconds.

2. Add the fennel, carrot, and celery. Saute until the vegetables are soft 7-10 minutes.

3. Deglaze the pan with white wine and let the alcohol cook out. Next add the fish stock, tomatoes and hot sauce and saffron. Bring to almost a boil. When almost at a boil, reduce to a simmer 10 minutes, covered.

4. Add the mussels and simmer gently, covered until they are cooked. Check for final seasoning. Garnish with the parsley. Serve with lemon wedges and toasted baguette.

5. For the baguette – cut into thin slices, rub with olive oil and bake in a 400 degrees oven until crispy 5-7 minutes.

Mussels Scampi

• 1 # trottole

• Pot of Salted Boiling Water, for cooking trottole

• ¼ C. olive oil

• ½ C. garlic, smashed

• ½ C. green olives

• ½ C. peppadew peppers

• 1 ½ C. cherry tomato, halved

• ¼ C. oregano, chopped

• 1.5 C. pinot grigio

• ½ C. seafood stock

• ¼ C. butter, cut into 5-6 pieces

• 2 T. flour

• 2 # mussels, beards removed, rinsed

• Salt and Pepper

• Parsley for garnish, chopped

1. Cook the pasta, drain and cool to room temperature. Set aside.

2. In a large dutch oven, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is golden brown.

3. Next add the olives, peppers, tomato, and oregano. Let cook for 2 minutes.

4. Add the pinot grigio and seafood stock and reduce by half. Roll the butter in the flour, and then add it to the broth and cook until it has thickened slightly.

5. Add the mussels and cover the pot and steam until the mussels are cooked through about 2-3 minutes.

6. Place some of the cooked trottole in a bowl. Ladle over the broth with the vegetables and the mussels. Garnish with parsley.

Massaman Curry Mussels

• 1 # baby potatoes, blanched

• 1 cinnamon stick

• 3 cardamom pod

• ½ T. coriander seed

• 1 star anise, whole

• 4 T. oil

• 3 T. massaman curry paste

• 1 red onion, julienne

• 1.5 # mussels

• 2 C. coconut milk

• 2 T. fish sauce

• 4 T. tamarind puree

• 2 T. coconut sugar

• 2 tsp. ginger, microplaned

• Cilantro, to garnish


For The Massaman Curry Paste:

2 T. galangal, chopped fine

2 T. lemongrass, bottom 4 inches, chopped fine

2 Thai shallot, thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 T. coriander stems, chopped

5-10 dried thai bird chiles, soaked in hot water and deseeded (chile amount depends on preference)

4 Kaffir lime leaves

1 T. cumin seeds

1 T. coriander seeds

1 T. turmeric, ground

3 cloves, ground

1 tsp. cinnamon, ground

½ tsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. coconut sugar

2 tsp. fish sauce

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1. Combine the potatoes with cold water and salt in a pan and boil under fork tender. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large pan on high heat, dry toast the cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and star anise. When toasted and fragrant, add the oil. When hot, add the curry paste and stir-fry until fragrant, 1 minute.

3. Next add the onion and cook until it begins to turn translucent.

4. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, tamarind, sugar, ginger, and lime zest. Bring to a rolling simmer. When simmering, add the potatoes and the mussels. Continue to simmer until for 4-5 minutes, or until the mussels are cooked. Serve alongside rice.


For The Curry Paste:

1. Using a mortar and pestle, combine all ingredients and grind to a paste.