Mytilus edulis - farmed in South West Waters
Plump, tender, sweet and arriving in a variety of sizes, the mussel is a mainstay of French cuisine, with moules et frites occupying many a French menu. Cheap, readily available and a good source of protein, I love them raw with a squeeze of lemon, grilled with garlic, breadcrumbs and parsley, or steamed and served in a sweet and sour chilli sauce.
If any one seafood distils the essential nature of the sea, it’s the mussel. That oceanic character is especially pronounced in its aroma – a blend of surf and fresh seaweed with an underlying saffron-like spicy note. The initial mouth feel is silky, the exterior of the mussel having a smooth texture like a rich mousse. Bite in, and the feel shifts to a rich, almost egg-yolklike liquidity, releasing flavour notes of fennel seed and a mild brininess.
Mussels are a good source of selenium, vitamin B12, zinc, folic
acid, iron, calcium and omega-3 oil.
Per 100 g/4 oz: 74 kcals, 1.8 g fat