The region of Brittany in north-west France is well known for its seafood and one specialty you should not miss is Moules Marinières. The dish, which is an integral part of the Breton cuisine, is mussels or shellfish cooked in wine and is one of the most popular shellfish dishes in the world. As the ferry to France is easily affordable many Britain’s have tasted Moules Marinières in Brittany.
The history of the dish dates back to mid thirteenth century when a ship wrecked Irishman Patrick Walton accidentally discovered mussels hanging to the nets left out to trap birds, which led to its domestication on submerged wood piles. The tradition continues today with mussels being cultivated either directly on seabed or on ropes and bouchots in the region. These cultivated mussels are very small, fleshy and tasty to perfect to make a mouth watering dish.
The ingredients for a typical dish are mussels, white wine, parsley, shallots, bay leaves, fresh thyme and butter. To prepare the dish, which is very simple to prepare, the cleaned and de-bearded mussels are first washed in a sink taking, throwing away those mussels which float or remain open when tapped against the sink. The butter is melted in a saucepan to which onion, bay leaves and thyme are added before the wine, which should be boiled for about thirty seconds to remove its harshness, is added. Once the wine starts to boil the mussels are added and cooked till they open. The cream and parsley is then added while the seasoning is taken care of by the release of salt water when the mussels open.
The dish is often served to you either the traditional way with a glass of wine or with a plate of French fries the modern way. The amount of mussels served depends upon whether you are having the dish as a main course with a thumb rule about a kilo of mussels would be served, while as an appetizer roughly half a kilo would be served. To eat the dish the French way you should use a big empty shell holding it between your thumb and forefinger pulling out the orange meat from the other shells the same way you would use a fork. You can have delicious Moules Marinières all over Brittany though you can add excitement by getting a chance to help the chef in the preparation of dish at La Prevenchere, Saint-Caradec-Tregomel.
Photo by Lucy Dodsworth of ontheluce.com
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