Steamed Mussels with Black Bean and Gow Choi

Ah fresh mussels, those sweet and juicy treats from the sea. They are one of those edibles that people seem to steer clear from cooking in their own kitchen. But really there is no reason to avoid them: they are easy to cook and really cheap. They don’t take long to prepare, even less time to cook and can be from fridge to plate in half and hour.

Ingredients:
200g mussels
A red onion, finely diced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
1 cup of Shaoxing wine
A heaped teaspoon of dried black beans, finely chopped
3-4 sprigs of Gow Choi (chinese chives) – a handful of garlic chives would be an okay substitute
Groundnut oil
White pepper

Preparing Fresh Mussels:
 
If cooking mussels from raw, you should always make sure they are as fresh as possible when you buy them. Fresh mussels should smell of the sea and nothing else.

Start by rinsing them thoroughly to remove any grit and lose sand from the outer shells. Do not soak the mussels in tap water because this will kill them. Give each one a hard tap on the side of the sink and discard any that stay open – these are already dead. Also discard any shells that looked cracked or damaged, these may also be dead or full of grit. Use a small wire brush to remove any barnacles or calcium deposits from the outer shells and pull the stringy beard from between the lips of the shell. Pulling towards the shell hinge for best results. This fibrous hair is what the mussels use to cling onto the rocks. Give the mussels one last rinse in fresh water before steaming.

To cook:
In a large wok fry the diced onion in some oil and once soft stir in the black beans and minced ginger. Drop in the mussels and the Gow Choi, stirring to coat everything evenly. Then add the cup of Shaoxing wine over the mussels, give it a quick last stir and cover with a lid for three minutes.

After three minutes the mussels should have opened, add a grind or two or white pepper and stir the juices through once more and discard any mussels that have not opened.

Serve as a starter, or as an accompaniment with boiled rice and other dishes.

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