I probably ought to give credit to Rasa Malaysia for this dish. The recipe came from Diane Kochilas' book, but a year ago I would never have dreamed of making it. I was afraid to cook with shellfish. I had food safety concerns and was very squeamish about cooking something that was still living. Then, not too long after I started this blog, Rasa Malaysia posted a recipe involving clams that looked so amazingly good that I had to try it. Since I was squeamish about using live clams, I decided I would be clever and use frozen clams. Bleah! They were gritty, they were sandy, and they were chewy to the point of inedibility. Yuck! I decided to try to get over my squeamishness and just use the real deal. Eventually I made myself actually do it, which has given me the courage to try a whole range of recipes I've drooled over but never dared attempt. So thank you, Rasa Malaysia.
Anyway, I made this recipe for dinner on one recent Sunday. Mussels really don't benefit from a lot of fuss and muss; they tend to do better with relatively simple treatments. Therefore, there isn't a whole lot of room for me to make changes and adjustments. I did increase the amount of garlic, as always, and I decreased the amount of olive oil by two tablespoons. I'd love for you to believe that I did that for the virtuous reason of decreasing the fat content, but I just misread the recipe in my attempt to cook multiple dishes, conduct a reasonably coherent conversation, and keep the dog from releasing Talisker the Mighty Hunter (one of our cats) into the wilds of our backyard. I don't think that it was much missed. I did use the Big Green Egg to cook these, cooking them over indirect heat with a little bit of alder wood. If you don't have a Big Green Egg or other smoker, the original recipe did call for a gas grill. If you want the smoky flavor, try using one of those nifty little smoker boxes I've seen around with some water-soaked alder chips. According to Living Cookbook, this recipe gives a whopping 438.22 calories per serving; I suspect that's largely because of the oil.
Recipe: Grilled Mussels with Rosemary-Garlic Oil (serves 6; approx. $1.15/serving)
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
2 lemons, cut into wedges
- Big Green Egg or other smoker, or gas grill.
- Garlic press (optional, for pressing the garlic)
- Small saucepan
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in the small saucepan and cook the rosemary and garlic for about 30 seconds, just until the garlic starts to turn light golden brown.
- Add the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil and heat just to warm through. Do not boil the oil. Remove, season, and set aside. Keep warm.
- Prepare your grill for cooking. In the Big Green Egg, prepare the Egg for cooking over indirect heat. Use alder wood for the smoke. If you are using a gas grill, bring it to medium-high heat.
- Place the mussels on the grill. Close the lid on the grill and smoke 3 - 5 minutes, or until they open. Discard any that do not open.
- Serve in a large deep platter or in individual shallow bowls and drizzle the warm seasoned olive oil over them. Serve with the lemons on the side. Note: don't bother to strain the oil before serving; I know I took great delight in those little bits of garlic!