Victorian fresh mussels are always fabulous and they go a long way. There are two people in my household and we usually buy 2kilos. Sometimes we eat them all and at other times I use the left over mussels to make something else. There is usually some mussel broth left over and I store this in a glass jar in my freezer.
My partner likes to do the shopping and off he goes with his list, his bag and his mask and shops at the Queen Victoria Market. This time he cam home with 3kilos. We are in lockdown here so no inviting someone to join us.
I really like mussels and from a 3kilo batch my partner and I had three meals. Very frugal, but by the third day we were a little sick of mussels.
For the first meal, I cooked the mussels steamed in their own broth. In Italian this is called In brodetto.. brodo is broth.
I begin with a soffritto of chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic, with the help of a little white wine, then add the mussels, put on a lid and let them steam open and I sprinkle a little chopped parsley towards the end. We ate these with good quality, home baked bread, rubbed with oil and garlic and toasted in the oven.
On the second day we made some home made egg spaghetti. I made a salsa, first by dissolving a few anchovies in a little hot extra virgin olive oil, then I added a can of chopped tomatoes, a whole clove of garlic, a sprig of fresh oregano (because there is no basil growing on my balcony in this cold season) and a little of the mussel broth. I let it cook with no lid, to reduce and thicken. I added the cooked mussels to the sauce just to heat up and dressed the pasta. I keep the garlic whole so that I can remove it, this is my preference but maybe not yours.
Next day, a risotto, and very simple once again.
This time I used a fresh fennel and some of the left over mussels out of their shells that I kept in a jar in the fridge with yet again some of their broth. But this time I also used some mussel broth I had in the freezer from the time before. That mussel broth comes in handy and there always seems to be plenty of it.
There are three types of rice you can use for making risotto. Arborio is the most common and easily available in Australia, but carnaroli has more starch as does vialone nano; these two varieties make a risotto creamier. However, when I make a seafood risotto I prefer to use aborio because with seafood I like the risotto to be less gluggy. Don’t let this confuse you… all three varieties are suitable and it is just personal preferences. Perhaps I like to taste the flavour of the sea. Perhaps this is also why I do not generally add butter to a seafood risotto.
You may be remembering that you have read many recipes that indicate that you stick to the stove while you cook risotto. Sicilian rice dishes are interesting. I have watched my Sicilian aunties cook rice and have read numerous recipes where some stock is added, the lid is put on and it is left to absorb for about 5 minutes or more, then more stock is added and once again it is not continually stirred. The stirring happens in the last 5-7 minutes.
Making risotto is so simple, quick and easy.
I used 2 thinly sliced spring onions, 2 chopped cloves of garlic and once again began the cooking process by tossing it around in some extra virgin olive oil in a hot pan.
Then I added a finely sliced fennel and some parsley and tossed this around, added 1.5 cup of rice (this is sufficient for 2 people but you can add more). Toss it around to coat, add a splash of white wine. I added saffron, a generous pinch soaked beforehand in a little bit of water.
Keep on adding hot fish or mussel broth as you cook the rice until it is nearly cooked. This is when you add the shelled mussels. Cook the risotto until it is cooked all’onda…till the risotto looks wavy like the sea, and still moist.
I do not wish to eat mussels again for a couple of weeks.