My father used to take a trip to Oban each year on a scuba diving trip and drag the whole family along for a week at Easter.
I have fantastic memories of those weeks and can remember eating some of the best shellfish ever. Scallops fresh from the sea pan fried with bacon, steamed whelks with garlic and parsley, and huge plates of plump sweet mussels are my stand out favourites.
Mussels still are one of my favourite easy things to cook as they just burst with flavour. Most of the mussels we buy today are sustainably rope grown in the pristine waters off the Scottish coast. Low in fat and high in vitamins and omega 3 makes them a great choice for our diets.
Here the mussels are steamed and lightly pickled for a great summer starter. Serves 4
- 1k mussels
- 125ml dry white wine
- 2 shallots finely sliced
- 80ml white wine vinegar
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- Dessert spoon pink peppercorns
- Teaspoon coriander seed
- Small bunch dill
- 50ml tablespoons olive oil
- 8 firm gooseberries
- 1 bulb fennel sliced
- Wash and clean the mussels in cold running water. (discard any that are cracked or stay open)
- Heat the white wine in a large pan and once boiling add the mussels, stir cover with a lid and steam for 2 minutes. The mussels will open when cooked
- Drain off the cooking liquid and reserve. Pick the mussels from the shells discarding any that stay shut.
- Put the cooking liquid in a saucepan and add the shallots, sugar, vinegar, bay leaf. Pink peppercorns and coriander seed. Bring to a boil and the turn off allowing it to cool
- Place the mussels in a kilner jar and pour over the pickle.
- Leave for at least 3 hours in the liquid in a fridge. (they will last for 3 days in the fridge)
- Pick the dill and keep some back for decorating the plates. Add the reaming to the oil and liquidise with a pinch of salt for 30 seconds. Strain through a muslin cloth and reserve
- Blanch the fennel in salted boiling water for 1 minute and then plunge into iced water. Drain and reserve
- To plate the dish arrange the fennel on 4 plates top with the mussels, slice the gooseberries and add to the plates. Decorate with dill fronds, some pickle juice and the dill oil. Sprinkle with a little sea salt if needed.