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As any South African who loves their seafood will tell you, West Coast Mussels are delicious! Mussels are quickly becoming one of South Africa’s biggest exports and Saldanha Bay on the West Coast is the epicentre of this industry.

 

Why mussels love the West Coast

 
The Benguela Current that flows along the West Coast is particularly rich with plankton, which makes it an excellent natural breeding-ground for mussels. After the fully-grown mussels are removed from the water at Saldanha’s mussel farms, they are steamed and then frozen for export. The main type of mussel that is cultivated in these farms is the European blue mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis, which originates from the Mediterranean.

 

If you are living abroad or even in South Africa and have the opportunity to get your hands on some West Coast Mussels, here are 5 delicious recipes for you to enjoy:

 

 

Mussels with white wine and parsley recipe

This is the classic mussel recipe and allows you to enjoy the full flavour of West Coast Mussels:

Ingredients:
  • 1kg of mussels in their shells
  • A small glass of white wine
  • 1 finely chopped shallot
  • Chopped parsley to serve
Method:
  1. To clean the mussels place them in the sink or a large bowl of cold water. Swirl them around thoroughly and discard any with broken shells or half open shells.
  2. Pull off the beards (the brown wispy bit hanging out of the join of the mussel shell). Not all mussels will have beards.
  3. Tip the mussels into a large pan, then add the wine and chopped shallot. The pan should not be more than half full. The mussels need space to move around in order to cook properly.
  4. Set the pan over high heat and cover tightly with a lid. When the pan starts to steam, cook the mussels for 3-4 mins, shaking the pan from time to time to ensure they cook evenly. When the shells are open, the mussels have cooked.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat to stop the mussels cooking any further. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, then spoon them into warmed bowls and pour over the pan juices.

 

West Coast mussels in a spicy coconut sauce recipe

Ingredients:
  • 1kg of fresh mussels
  • 1 can of coconut milk
Harissa ingredients:
  • 1kg red peppers, de-seeded, roughly chopped and sautéed in a little oil, until softened
  • ¼ preserved lemon, pips removed
  • 1 handful fresh coriander
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 2 whole green chillies
Method:
  1. To clean the mussels place them in the sink or a large bowl of cold water. Swirl them around thoroughly and discard any with broken shells or half open shells.
  2. Pull off the beards (the brown wispy bit hanging out of the join of the mussel shell). Not all mussels will have beards.
  3. Blend all the Harrissa ingredients in a food processor until they form a soft paste
  4. Place the coconut milk in a large saucepan and add the Harissa paste
  5. Gently heat the mixture and then add your prepared mussels
  6. Simmer until your mussels have opened and then serve sprinkled with fresh coriander

 

West Coast mussels with leeks, thyme and bacon recipe

Ingredients:
  • 750g of West Coast Mussels
  • 25g of butter
  • 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon chopped into small pieces
  • 2 small leeks, sliced diagonally
  • A handful of thyme sprigs
  • A small glass of cider or white wine
Method:
  1. To clean the mussels place them in the sink or a large bowl of cold water. Swirl them around thoroughly and discard any with broken shells or half open shells.
  2. Pull off the beards (the brown wispy bit hanging out of the join of the mussel shell). Not all mussels will have beards.
  3. Heat half the butter in a pan, then sizzle the bacon for 3-4 mins until starting to brown.
  4. Add the leeks and thyme, then sweat everything together for 4-5 mins until soft.
  5. Turn the heat up high, add the mussels and cider or wine, then cover and cook for 4-5 mins, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels have opened. Discard any that don’t open.
  6. Scoop the mussels and the other bits into a dish, then place the pan back on the heat. Boil the juices for 1 min with the rest of the butter, then pour over the mussels and serve with crusty bread.

 

Creamy, spiced West Coast mussels recipe

Ingredients:
  • 2kg of West Coast Mussels
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 1tsp plain flour
  • 1-2 tsp curry paste
  • 100g crème fraiche
  • Chopped parsley to serve
Method:
  1. To clean the mussels place them in the sink or a large bowl of cold water. Swirl them around thoroughly and discard any with broken shells or half open shells.
  2. Pull off the beards (the brown wispy bit hanging out of the join of the mussel shell). Not all mussels will have beards.
  3. Fry the shallots in the butter in the large pan until they are softened, but not browned. Stir in the flour and curry paste, and cook for 1 min.
  4. Add the cooking liquid (discarding the last little bit, which may be gritty) and season with pepper. Don’t add salt, as the mussel juices will be salty enough.
  5. Stir the crème fraîche into the sauce, warming it through over low heat until thickened and glossy. Divide the mussels between four bowls and pour over the sauce. Scatter with parsley and serve with chips or bread to mop up the juices.

 

Crunch baked West Coast mussels recipe

This dish is ideal if you are entertaining and want to prepare ahead.

Ingredients:
  • 1kg of West Coast mussels
  • 50g of toasted breadcrumbs
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 100g garlic and parsley butter
Method:
  1. To clean the mussels place them in the sink or a large bowl of cold water. Swirl them around thoroughly and discard any with broken shells or half open shells.
  2. Pull off the beards (the brown wispy bit hanging out of the join of the mussel shell). Not all mussels will have beards.
  3. Drain the mussels and put in a large pan with a splash of water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan, shaking occasionally, until the mussels are open – this will take 2-3 mins. Drain well, then discard any that remain closed. Heat grill to high.
  4. Mix the crumbs and zest. Remove one side of each shell, then spread a little butter onto each mussel. Set on a baking tray and sprinkle with crumbs. Grill for 3-4 mins until crunchy.
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