Moules marinière is the classic way to cook mussels and a very good way at that, but mussels in a gratin with a creamy, aromatic sauce flavored with lemongrass, ginger and fresh cilantro is rather delicious, too. Mussels are very good value and easy to cook, just make sure they are very fresh and throw away any with broken shells before cooking and those that don’t open once cooked. Don’t forget a fresh baguette or homemade French fries to dip into the sauce—this dish wouldn’t be the same without them!
– PREPARATION TIME 20 minutes, plus making the stock.
– COOKING TIME 20 minutes.
– 6½ pounds mussels, rinsed.
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft.
– 2 tablespoons olive oil.
– 1 large shallot, roughly chopped.
– 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised.
– 1½-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and roughly chopped.
– 1 cup not-too-acidic or not-too-dry white wine, such as Riesling from Alsace.
– 2 handfuls cilantro leaves, chopped.
– 1 cup Fish Stock.
– 1¾ cups whipping cream.
– ⅓ cup grated pecorino cheese.
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: 2 Generously butter four 7-inch flameproof gratin dishes. Heat a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, shallot, lemongrass and ginger and fry 2 to 3 minutes until they are just soft, but not colored. Turn the heat up to high, add the wine and cook until it reduces by one-third, letting the alcohol evaporate. Add the mussels and half the cilantro leaves, cover the pan with a lid and cook about 5 minutes at the very most, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the mussels are open. Discard any that remain closed. Remove the pan from the heat and scoop all the mussels into a colander using a slotted spoon. Leave them to cool slightly before shelling. Discard the shells.
Step 3: 3 Spoon the shelled mussels into the prepared gratin dishes and put the dishes on a broiler tray. Strain the juices from the pan and bowl through a fine strainer into a measuring jug. Reserve 7 ounces of the liquid.
Step 4: 4 Meanwhile, heat the broiler to high. Pour the mussel liquid into a sauté pan and add the stock and cream. Put over low heat and bring almost to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes, or until the liquid reduces by half and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season with pepper to taste and a little salt, if necessary.
Step 5: 5 Ladle the cream sauce over the mussels in the gratin dishes. Sprinkle the remaining cilantro over the tops, then finish with a sprinkling of cheese on each, making sure the cheese covers the cilantro so it doesn’t discolor. Put the dishes under the hot broiler a minute or so until the tops are bubbling and golden brown. Serve hot.