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Appetizers, Fish and Shellfish, Mains, Quick and Easy

Black mussels with fennel salt

Black mussels with fennel salt
Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

At Jar in Los Angeles, chef Suzanne Tracht gives an Asian inflection to steamed black mussels. She serves a bowl heaped with the sweet plump mussels in the shell and tops them with an emerald thatch of "water spinach," or ... Read more

Total time: 20 minutes | Serves 1 to 2

Mussels

  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds mussels
  • Salt, pepper
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups ong choy
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Step 1Place the garlic and the shallot in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium heat and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the shallot has just become translucent, about 2 minutes. Swirl the pan so the garlic moves and does not burn. Add the mussels. Turn the heat to high and coat the mussels in the oil, shallot and garlic. Add a dash of salt and pepper, then the wine. Cover and simmer until the mussels have opened wide, no more than 2 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels.

Step 2Arrange the mussels in a bowl and return the cooking liquid to the heat. Add the ong choy and the butter. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. The ong choy cooks down very quickly; you want this to remain brothy. Pour the liquid on top of the mussels and arrange the ong choy in a bundle on top. Serve while hot with the fennel salt (see related recipe) for sprinkling.

Fennel salt

  • 1/4 cup fleur de sel
  • 3 tablespoons lightly toasted fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Step 1Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush the salt, fennel seeds and zest together until lightly combined. (Makes a little less than a half cup.)

Note: This fennel salt is delicious. Try it also with grilled foods or vegetables or just set it on the table as a seasoning. Fleur de sel is a French sea salt available at specialty markets and well-stocked supermarkets. Ong choy is a long-stemmed leafy green available at Asian markets.

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