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Posts Tagged ‘Seafood’

Thai mussels

We don’t cook mussels nearly enough.  They are easier to make than boiling water, with little limitation on how they can be flavored.  Fresh mussels are good enough to be enjoyed without any flavoring and, if you so choose, with as much or as little as a loaf of bread to sop up the juices.  Slightly more exciting is to steam then in a little white wine and garlic.  Of course, a more adventurous–but only slightly more difficult–route is to prepare a sauce separately to pour over the mussels, after incorporating the mussels own juices.  (Don’t let the juice go to waste!) And for those who care, they are a sustainable seafood to be enjoyed without guilt.

Mussels just need to steam long enough to open up.  So just put them in a pot (wide and shallow will distribute heat better than thin and tall, by the way) with a very small amount of fluid (the mussels will release quite a bit of their own), cover, heat to boil, and shake every few minutes.  When they are all open (about ten minutes) they are done.  Move to a bowl, top with the dressing/sauce/whatever.

For the sauce we did a thai inspired dressing:  Lime juice (or due to availability we may have used lemon), fish sauce (yay fish sauce!), rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, scallions, sesame oil, chile flakes, cilantro.  And mixed that in with the mussel juice.  That’s dinner.  No bread, no noodles, no rice.  Just two huge bowls of steamed mussels covered in a spicy, citrusy dressing.  Oh, and you probably don’t need nearly as many mussels for two people as we had.  We just happened to buy a bag of mussels that was over 5 pounds; three to four would have done just fine.

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Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is adorable with its quintessential boat-studded harbor and cobblestone alleyways lined with coffee shops. Visiting in October is Romantic, in the post-Classical sense, of course. There’s a definitive gray and briskness, and people we encountered seemed to walk much faster and smile much less than I recall from previous summers.

On Easton’s Beach, we saw seagulls picking clams off the shore, flying up 10-15 feet, and dropping them on the rocks in an effort to crack the shells open. It was smart, though labor-intensive, and I commend the seagulls for their perseverance. The process continues for at least four or five flights per clam, and only then do the seagulls manage to extract the soft clam bodies for dinner. Speaking of seagulls and dinner, we also saw some seagulls picking away at a baby shark that had washed up on the shore!

Flo’s Clam Shack in Middletown, RI is also worth a mention. If there’s an Internet-based cult following around this place, we couldn’t find it; if there isn’t, there should be. Here we had exactly the type of dinner we were hoping for — lightly fried, exceedingly fresh, and very enormous platter of seafood containing clam strips, clams (very different from strips, and so much tastier), calamari, scallops, shrimp, fish. There was just one mysterious item — a purported clam cake — and we never decided whether we had received that or not. That aside, everything else on the menu comes with our recommendation. Flo’s is the perfect caricature of a “clam shack” and everything that might conjure up, and it’s worth driving the two hours to Newport just to eat here.

We also stopped by the local Kilwin’s for some pumpkin and chocolate fudge brownie ice cream with a few samples of peanut brittle as well. And we leave you with this warning: Too much pumpkin can in fact cause Vitamin A overdose with symptoms of orange skin, blurry vision, and nausea!

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