Chef Michael Ovens from The Beach Hut in Ballito gives us his secret take on a seafood classic…
This recipe is very simple and is all about sourcing good quality ingredients. If you can’t find fresh Parmesan, for example, please don’t use the processed stuff: it’s better to exclude it from your dish.
Serves 4 starter portions
1kg – a big bowl fresh mussels (never frozen!) from a good fishmonger or fresh of the rocks
100ml – about half a glass white wine
2 large cloves – a large pinch fresh garlic (not the pre-chopped stuff)
250ml – small carton cream
100g – small block parmesan shavings (not the pre-grated stuff)
6 rashers – small packet bacon (must be good quality)
50g – small pack chives
4 thick slices sourdough bread or any good quality bread you fancy
As soon as you get your mussels home get them into the sink and under cold water. Fill the sink with cold water (half fill with water if water restrictions. If you have some old ice in the freezer get it in there to help cool them down. Clean and “debeard” take off anything on the outer shell of the mussels. Make sure they are all closed, if some are open give them a firm tap and see if they start to close. If any are still open after cleaning and tapping discard them as they are already dead. Now store them in a sealed container in the fridge (not in water)
– Lay your bacon on a wire rack and cook it under the grill until crispy.
– While this is happening, chop your chives as finely as possible, wrap and store in the fridge.
– Shave your Parmesan with a potato peeler and store in the fridge.
– Peel and finely chop the garlic, wrap and store in the fridge.
– Now your bacon should be ready-chop into strips and put to one side.
-Take a large pot and put it on a high heat, the pot must have a lid that fits correctly. If the lid has a small air vent hold in it, plug this with a price of Glad Wrap or tin foil. It’s very important the steam doesn’t escape when cooking the mussels.
– After 3 or 4 minutes the pot should be hot enough. Put the mussels, wine and garlic in a bowl and mix a little.
– Add the mussels to the pot and quickly put the lid back on, shake the pot whilst holding the lid to help evenly cook the mussels.
– While the mussels are cooking, char-grill or toast your bread so it is ready at the same time as the mussels.
– Take the lid of and move the mussels around 2 or 3 times over the next 5 or 6 minutes, when the mussels are open, add the cream, leave the lid off and allow the cream to come up to the simmer.
– Now taste the sauce to make sure everything takes OK.
– Divide the mussels and sauce between 4 bowls, sprinkle the Parmesan, bacon and chives between the 4 bowls and serve the bread on the side with butter and enjoy!
This dish is available at The Beach Hut, Balvista Center, Ballito Old Town.
Call 032 586 0123 to make a reservation.