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Green-Lip Mussels on the Barbecue

The Mussels found in the  waters along New Zealand’s coastline are as dramatic as the countryside. With their signature emerald green lipped shell these little gems can grow up to a staggering 24cm in length and are amongst some of the largest ( and tastiest) in the world. Maori have been harvesting mussel or Kutai  from the shores of Aotearoa (New Zealand) since the land was inhabitated over 1,000 years ago and the mollusc was amongst one of the first commercially gathered products in New Zealand.

Phone conversations with my Dad, who is back home in New Zealand, usually involve a detailed description of  his latest feast of fresh seafood. “The mussels bub, weeeeee you should see them! FAT, juicy”, ” Yeah, thanks Dad”, chokes back a sob.

What can I say, it’s one of my absolute homesick triggers and before I land back home in Aotearoa, I am hitting up my relations to get the ‘welcome wagon’ out by way of freshly collected seafood for the hungry homesick traveller. Don’t bother tying  a yellow ribbon round an old oak tree, just collect another sugar-bag… I’m on my way home.

It was during a barbecue demonstration with Jamie Durie (environmentalist, TV producer/host and regular Oprah Winfrey guest)  that I was preparing for in Perth (Western Australia) that I stumbled across boxes of greenlip mussels in the freezer section of the local supermarket. As I had never thought to look for mussels in the freezer, I was pleasantly surprised to find one of New Zealand’s favourite exports amongst the frozen offerings.

With an ever so slight deterioration in quality ~ Nothing beats fresh, hand dredged straight from the ocean and eaten raw, I thought that “mussels on the barbie” would be a great way to highlight a beautiful New Zealand product in a real ‘Aussie’ sort of  way.

Firstly I make two dressings to drizzle over the mussels. The first one is tomato and chill  and the second  is a mayo and anchovy. They get drizzled over the mussels once they are removed from the barbecue.

Green lip Mussels on the Barbecue Recipe

Tomato and chilli dressing

2 firm tomatoes ~ cut in quarters with flesh removed and the skin cut into very small dice.
1/2 cup of sweet chilli sauce
1 small handful of fresh corainder leaves ~ chopped fine
1 Tbsp salmon xo sauce
1/2 small red onion ~ cut into very small dice
Mix all the ingredients together and season well with salt and pepper. Cover with cling film and rest the dressing for a couple of hours before using to allow the flavors time to develop.

Mayo and anchovy dressing

1/2 cup of best food mayonnaise ( best foods is the BEST for this)
2 large anchovy fillets~ mashed well with the back of a large knife to form a smooth paste.
Mix together the mayo and anchovy mash with a fork until well combined.
Slowly incorporate 2-3 Tbsp of cold water and mix well to form a dressing that is of a consistency that it can drizzle well.
Season well with salt and pepper.

To cook the mussels

I like to cook steak or meat in clarified butter on the flat grill of the barbecue  before I cook the mussels as this allows the mussels to cook in the juices and flavors that the steak leaves behind ~ a little surf and turf action!

Clean and de-beard your mussels by pulling the “beardy” looking part that protrudes from the shell. The best way to do this is if the beards are proving stubborn is to yank on them with a tea towel.  Refresh briefly under cold running water.
Heat the barbecue up until searing hot and position the mussels in a single layer on a  flat grill.  Cook the mussels only until the shells open. Seafood flesh requires only short cooking times as lengthy cooking will result in moisture loss through evaporation leaving the flesh rubbery and unappetizing.
So as soon as the shell gives way and opens remove from the barbecue and place in the plate you intend to serve in. Drizzle the open mussels generously with both sauces and serve immediately.
What’s your favorite mussels recipe?

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One Comment

  1. Marilyn said…

    These mussels are gorgeous. I’d like to see a 24cm. one. Emerald green shell edges are amazing.

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