I generally serve these mussels with drinks to be eaten straight from the shell, though they will also make a lovely first course to be eaten at the table.
If I am serving them as a starter, I serve thinly sliced brown bread and butter to accompany.
The key element in this dish that is not listed in the ingredient list, is the juice that the mussels expel as they cook. This wonderful sweet tasting and mild juice, is used to thin the mayonnaise to a coating sauce and is really the making of the dish.
To ensure that you don't lose this sometimes scant amount of juice, you need to cover the shellfish and cook over a moderate heat. If the heat is too high, the juices just evaporate during the cooking and are lost. I am a big fan of the juices that shells such as mussels, cockles and clams emit when cooking and I often freeze surplus juices for use another day when they can be a marvellous addition to a soup or a sauce.
If you would like to get very organized with the preparation of this dish you could cook the shellfish ahead of time and also prepare the sauce. The shells can then be coated with the mayonnaise at a later stage. In that case, both the mussels and sauce should be chilled until ready for assembly. Having said that, the silky texture of the un-chilled cooked fish, still warm from the pan, is superior to that of the firmer chillier ones.
I always use a pyrex plate or glass saucepan lid when cooking shellfish so as to be more visibly aware as to when they are cooked. The shellfish cook unevenly, so you need to be removing cooked ones from the pan as soon as they pop open.
Serves 4 -6 as an accompaniment to a drink.
Serves 2 as a starter
- 20 mussels, rinsed in cold water
- 2 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon of curry powder
- 2 tablespoons of finely diced peeled eating apple
- A few drops of lemon juice 20 coriander leaves
- Place the cleaned mussels in a small low sided saucepan or sauté and cover with a pyrex plate. Place on a low heat and allow the mussels to cook and pop open.
- As soon as the flesh in the shells looks plump and cooked, immediately remove from the pan. Continue cooking until all of the shells are cooked.
- While the mussels are cooling, strain 1 tablespoon of the mussel cooking juices into the mayonnaise.
- Add the curry powder, diced apple and mix well. You want a coating consistency that will cover the mussels in alight cloak, so if it is looking a little thick, add a little more of the mussel liquid.
- Taste and correct seasoning as a pinch of salt or a few drops of lemon juice may be required.
- Carefully remove the mussel meat from the shells and remove the little tuft of hair known as the beard. Sometimes the beard will have fallen out during the cooking, so if it is not obviously visible, it may not be there, so do not worry about it. You are trying to keep the mussels intact, so be gentle when handling them as they are easy to tear in which case they are not as lovely to look at or to eat. Replace one mussel in each half shell. Discard the rest of the shells.
- Coat each refilled shell with a little of the spiced mayonnaise and garnish with a coriander leaf. Serve immediately or keep chilled for no longer than 1 hour.