- 1 pound live mussels
- 1/2 cup wheat beer
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallot or green onion
- 1 teaspoon minced parsley or chervil
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 1 or 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
- 4 lemon wedges (optional)
Scrub and debeard the mussels, discarding any open ones that do not close when handled.
Place in a skillet or saucepan with the beer, shallot, parsley, pepper and butter.
Cover, bring to a boil and steam until the shells are all open.
Serve in bowls, with a soup spoon and bread for dipping in the broth. A separate bowl for the empty shells is a nice touch.
Squeeze a little lemon juice into the broth in your bowl if you like, but taste it first!
Yield: 2, as an appetizer
Good to know
The trickiest thing about steaming mussels or clams in beer is finding the right beer, assuming that you want to slurp up the broth along with the shellfish. Again, it’s the old hops problem: Boil down a hoppy beer and you concentrate its bitterness. The Belgians, among the world’s most enthusiastic mussel eaters, figured this out a long time ago, and the favorite beer there for steaming mussels is a sour-tasting lambic, which is made with hops that have been aged to reduce their bitterness. I have yet to taste a domestic beer that comes close to the flavor profile of lambic, but a lightly hopped domestic hefeweizen or a wheat beer in the “wit” style works pretty well.
Even if you like lemon in your wheat beers, don’t assume that this dish will be improved by a squeeze of lemon in the bowl. I’ve tried it both ways and prefer it without lemon.
Clearly, the same beer you cook the mussels in.
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The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook
From "The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook," Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.
Photo: Jeff Kubina/Flickr