Equally as impressive as the bounty of fresh local produce that is grown, harvested and then sold at our weekly farmers’ markets is our incredible seafood. Much of it comes directly from our local Santa Barbara channel waters.
Seafood is often a secondary thought for most, but for some, the weekly seafood pickup is the main attraction. From line-caught California wild king salmon, local vermillion rockfish and halibut, to rock crab, lobster, spot prawns, mussels and oysters, there is always something special to get excited about from our local fishermen.
This week, in addition to a small piece of the wild sashimi-grade king salmon that I picked up from Wild Local Seafood Co., I was really looking forward to cooking up some of the local Hope Ranch mussels I sourced from Santa Barbara Mariculture.
Raised locally on lines in Santa Barbara waters, these mussels are as fresh and tasty as they come, cooking up perfectly in just a few minutes.
When cooking mussels, I typically like to have on hand some basic flavoring agents that complement the rich flavor of the mussels. Fresh lemon, spring garlic, celery and fresh parsley were all incorporated for this week’s recipe. I will often use a little white wine in the steaming liquid, but a chicken or vegetable stock on their own works just fine. The addition of jalapeño pepper for added heat is also a great option.
When preparing your mussels, you really want to try not to overcook them, allowing just enough time for the shells to pop open, then turning off the heat. They will continue to steam a little after the heat is off. Any mussels that do not open on their own are typically discarded.
Serve mussels with some toasted bread to help soak up the delicious broth and contents within. I find this to be one of the most satisfying meals around.
Steamed Mussels with Spring Garlic and Lemon
2 pounds mussels, rinsed under cold water
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
2 celery ribs, finely diced
1 bunch spring garlic, tops and bottoms chopped (can use 5 cloves of garlic if you don’t have the spring garlic, minced)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup white wine
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock/broth
2 from Roma style tomatoes, diced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 green onions, cut into angled rounds
After you rinse your mussels, remove the “beard” portion that is protruding from the shell.
In a pot large enough for all the contents, add the butter, celery, spring garlic and lemon zest. Then sauté for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Next, turn the burner to high heat and add white wine. Let cook down for a couple of minutes, then add the broth.
Bring to a boil or heavy simmer, add the mussels and diced tomatoes, and cover with a lid. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened.
Serve in a bowl with lemon wedges, and garnish of parsley and green onions. Make sure to have some toasted bread close by.
Yield: Serves 3-4.