Moules for Fools
Moules for Fools.
We are BACK! It’s great to be back in our shops and meeting you all in person! It is also great to be back with our team again, whom by now you’ve all met or at least read about in these blogs! Whilst we’ve been prepping our stores for the arrival of visitors again, we’ve also been excited about what we’re going to be getting up to this summer, and we thought we would share a few of our secrets. Over the next few months we will be updating you with the places we go to, the plates we are eating, the people we meet and the products we’re introducing!
So without further a do, Salut! We’re starting with food…
In line with the new drop of T’s that are a little bit French and a little bit beachy we’ve decided that one of the first meals ‘OUT’ together would have to be mussels on the beach.
They’re probably up there with the most sustainable fish source in the UK and they are right on our doorstep. You might have seen Andrew out rock hopping and collecting mussels during lockdown for him and Al – Deliveroo hasn’t quite made it to Cornwall just yet so date night still requires some effort! Hand harvesting your own mussels definitely gets you some points, but moules done wrong could be a relationship breaker… so here’s how we do it!
It goes without saying; only take what you need. According to Cornwall Inshore Fisheries, there are no signs of depletion amongst populations of mussels along our rocky shoreline so let’s keep it that way.
It is actually coming to the end of the mussel season so this is our last forage before September! It is important to leave these bivalves to breed in the summer months when the waters are warmer. Rule of thumb, only pick them in the months containing the letter ‘R’ (i.e not in May, June, July and August). So get on your bike, in your new Breton T and head to the Cornish coast to catch the best of Spring. With this weather, you might just fool yourself into thinking you are in fact holidaying in Brittany. How’s that for escapism?!
As with all things cooking, timing is everything. Aim for a spring low tide so you can dash out to the largest colonies and hand select your lunch - anything over 2 inches has had a life well lived – give the little guys a chance but don’t be tempted by the massive one’s either. Get back before the tide turns and leaves you stranded (we’ve all been there).
Now for the most important part… purify… purify… purify. It’s straightforward so don’t stress. They filter themselves naturally so just leave them submerged in clean sea-water for a good portion of the day and they can do their thing (we suggest 6-8 hours). This will get rid of any sand in them but if you pick from the top of the rock they will likely be less gritty to begin with.
Scrub them, pull off any ‘beards’ (bysuss threads- basically what attaches them to the rocks) and give them a last good rinse, getting rid of any that don’t want to close when you tap them against a board.
There are so many ways to cook mussels, grill them, BBQ them but for the traditional French Moules Marinière, all you need is a large saucepan with a lid. As I said, we’re just a little bit French so we’re going to mix up the classic dish and make the most of what’s in season in Cornwall. Wild garlic grows in abundance at this time of year and you will find it carpeting most areas of woodland. Plus - it’s much easier than faffing about chopping up garlic on the beach. Just a handful of leaves, you can tear and toss in the pan at the end and BAM you got yourself garlic buttery heaven on a plate!
At JAM, we love building a fire, cooking and feasting al fresco but of course, they work just as well on the hob!
JAM MOULES (serves 2 amply)
60 -70 mussels
A small handful of wild garlic leave
A good amount of butter (optional but recommended)
2 shallots (finely chopped at home)
2 glasses of St. Ives. cider (one for the cook and one for the pot)
Plenty of fresh crusty baguette (or sourdough from Fees Foods)
Soften your shallots in butter in the pan (don’t let them burn! We want them translucent not brown)
Add your prepared mussels and pour in your cider and then cover with the lid for 3-4mins or when the mussels start to open. Shake the pot every now and again, If you’ve picked a lot of the little guys you’ll need to cook for a few mins longer to ensure they all open!)
Tear up your wild garlic, add to the pan and take off the heat.
Serve straight from the pot or in bowls and be sure to dredge your bread through those delicious juices
And there we have it, a super delicious seaside feast for Spring and barely a food mile spent!
If harvesting your own mussels sounds like too much work or you are only down in May-August you can always support Cornish Farmed Mussels which are just as environmentally friendly, if not more so. The farms form natural reefs that encourage other species to use as shelter. We recommend using Gary Rawle who has an offshore farm in St Austell Bay boasting the highest grade of water quality in the country– you can get his West Country Mussels from Matthew Stevens or Celtic Fish and Game.