Mussels from the Mediterranean, a classic with a twist

We are moving from the Paris region to the Pyrenees where I have a larger kitchen to play with. The change in area also entails a different origin of products. Last week we were in Dieppe but while we ate well at a favourite restaurant, we did not manage to have any mussels.

So when I saw mussels on the market in Mirepoix, I bought a kilo.

A mussel may seem like another mussel but that is not true. The North Sea mussels or those from the Barfleur area are relatively small black mussels that turn yellow when cooking. These are “moules de bouchot” raised on ropes in basins in the sea.

The mussels in Mirepoix came from the lakes of Thau and Bouzigues near Sète on the Mediterranean. There they grow in suspended nets.

The mussels were a bit bigger, but not as large as what are called “Spanish mussels” here and that can end up in paella.

These mussels turned orange/pinkish while cooking.

But then, I also changed the method of cooking.

Normally, I would clean the mussels and cook them with some vegetables in some liquid like white wine. These mussels had strong beards and other ligaments and the shells were not very polished. I could clean them for a long time or cook them apart and then take the mussels from the shells.

It took some 10 minutes to cook the mussels in wine and their own liquid.

I braised some chopped onion, leek, carrot and garlic in a mix of butter and olive oil (I did not have parsley, otherwise I would have added that too) and then added the mussels to the vegetables, twisted the pepper mill for a few turns and the meal was ready.  We had bread with it, a Moroccan flatbread, also bought on the Mirepoix Monday morning market.