Mussel memory: Bill Granger brings sunny reminiscences of holidays past to the table with his spectacular seafood dishes
Our chef's dishes are as speedy to make as they are delicious to demolish
Sunday 19 January 2014
I never quite understand why people turn to convenience food when there are so many cheap ingredients that make preparing delicious quick dishes from scratch so easy. Mussels are the perfect example, and my current favourite ingredient for a speedy meal.
It used to be that you needed to spend ages scrubbing mussels and pulling their beards off ready for the pan, ruining your nails and mood in the process. These days fishmongers and supermarkets seem to sell them pretty much ready to go.
Just rinse under a cold tap, checking for any broken shells and remnants of beard that need throwing out, and your work is done.
They're also incredibly good value for an ingredient that has the power to bring that sunny-holiday feeling to the table. I'm always happiest when I see people getting stuck into their food – rolling up their sleeves with purpose, ready for the attack.
Quick, cheap, appetising food that brings people together – what more can you ask for?
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
Linguine with mussels in tomato sauce
This is so enticing and works just as well with clams, prawns or really good-quality tinned tuna in olive oil.
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
375g linguine pasta
500g mussels, beards removed and washed
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions over a medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and chilli and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, season with sea salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Cook the linguine in a pan of salted boiling water, according to packet instructions. When there are 3 minutes of the cooking time remaining, take a ladleful of the pasta's cooking water and add to the tomato sauce. Bring the sauce to the boil, add the mussels and cook, stirring, until the mussels have opened. Drain the linguine and toss into the sauce, over the heat, until the pasta is well coated. Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil.
Satisfying and cleansing: Bill's Thai mussel soup (Kristen Perers)
Thai mussel soup
One of those light meals that manages to be both satisfying and cleansing.
250ml coconut milk
500g fish or chicken stock
3cm piece ginger, peeled and sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised
4 kaffir lime leaves or 3 strips lime peel
Handful green beans, trimmed
500g mussels, beards removed and washed
1 head bok choi, leaves separated
Juice 1 lime
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
Handful coriander leaves
Put the coconut milk, stock, 750ml water, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves in a large wok or saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Increase the heat and add the green beans and, after 30 seconds, the mussels and bok choi. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the mussels open. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and coriander and serve.
Time to get messy: Steamed mussels with chorizo and saffron (Kristen Perers)
Steamed mussels with chorizo and saffron
The Spanish love for pairing seafood with salty cured meats is one that I fully embrace. Make sure you have plenty of spare paper napkins at the table – it's going to get messy!
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 pinches saffron
200g chorizo, peeled and cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1kg mussels, beards removed and washed
250ml dry sherry or white wine
Handful parsley leaves
Toasted crusty bread, to serve
Heat the oil in a large pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onion and saffron and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the chorizo and garlic and cook until both turn golden.
Tip in the mussels, sherry or white wine and season with ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and steam for 3 minutes, or until the mussels open.
Top with the parsley leaves and serve with toasted bread with which to mop up the juices.
Food stylists: Marina Filippelli and Rosie Reynolds; Prop stylist: Rachel Jukes
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