The most common way to cook mussels is simply, after cleaning the suckers, place in a pan, add a splash of water (or white wine or broth), bring to a boil, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes. Stir the mussels and check to see if they have open, and serve. And then there’s Mussels Chinoise, or mussels “Chinese Style;” which, as the name implies, adds an Asian bent to the dish. In this case, oyster sauce and sesame oil. It is my favorite steamed mussels dish. You can serve it as an appetizer, or a whole meal itself, with some crusty bread on the side to soak up the sauce. With a dry white wine (or red, or whatever beverage desired), it’s a fabulous dish.
6 pounds mussels (about 14 to a pound)
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1½ cup)
3 ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut in half, and then into ½-inch cubes (3 cups)
1½ tablespoons oyster sauce, or more (depending on taste and tolerance for spicy food)
1½ tablespoons dark sesame oil
1½ tablespoons canola oil
½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1. If the mussels come already cleaned, then you’re set. If not, remove and discard the dried beards from the mussels and wash the mussels at least twice under cool running water, rubbing them against one another to help dislodge any sand.
2. Place the mussels in a large stockpot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat. When the mixture begins to boil, stir, cover, reduce heat to low and cook 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the shells have opened.
3. Divide the mussels over 6 plates and spoon some of the juices over them. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings.