10-Minute Seafood: Steamed Mussels With Oregano and White Wine
Steamed Mussels With Oregano and White Wine
Czech Republic, where I grew up, is a landlocked place in central Europe with no access to sea or seafood. There are beautiful lakes, serene ponds, ripply rivers and bubbly brooks all over, with all kinds of wild fish (pike, trout, carp, eel, zander), and there is also an extensive fish-farming tradition in Southern Bohemia. Freshwater mussels and clams are not the easiest to find, though—not in an amount suitable for a dinner for six, anyway—and some are on the endangered species list.
So, I didn’t encounter these fat-bellied mollusks until I was older, in an expensive, deli-bought frutti di mare salad imported from Norway. They were exotic-looking and mixed in with baby octopus, shrimp and calamari, but right away, I was hooked on their sweet taste and chewy texture.
I live in L.A. now and, luckily, can choose from a widely available—if not exactly local— variety of mussels: Mediterranean from Baja, Mexico; green-lipped from New Zealand; and Prince Edward Island and Saltspring Island from Canada. They would all work nicely in this easy, mouth-watering recipe in which they’re quickly steamed in a garlicky white-wine-oregano sauce.
- Serves 2–4
- 2 pounds mussels
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Scrub the mussels under cold running water, remove the beards, and drain in a colander.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until crisp and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the mussels and sprinkle the oregano, salt and pepper over them. Pour in the wine, cover the pot with a lid, and increase the heat to medium-high.
- Cook, stirring the mussels occasionally, until their shells open, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that didn’t open. Serve hot with bread to soak up the wine sauce.
When shopping for mussels, look for tightly closed, unbroken shells, or ones that snap shut when you tap them. Refrigerate them at home and use within a day.