I love mussels. Seriously. My love of mussels has only been exacerbated lately since my local farmers market has started selling them fresh and cheap! My go-to mussel recipes are normally steaming them in beer or a spicy tomato sauce, but I wanted to try something different to what I normally do. After a little recipe-hunt through cookbooks and online, I put a few recipes together with my own spin to make mussels cooked in a fennel cream sauce with udon noodles. So good!
So a few things about this recipe. A restaurant that I used to work at turned me on to the idea of using Udon noodles for almost every application of regular spaghetti. Why did we do that? Because Udon noodles have the same toothsome quality that fresh made pasta has and it cooks really quickly. If you have ever had fresh pasta, you will know what I am talking about. If not, you should try to find (or make) some.
Soba noodles, the buckwheat friend of Udon (which generally is made of wheat starch), is also delicious and a bit more on the healthy side if you are craving some pasta like comfort on a diet.
Another reason I love mussels is because the second that they are cooked they open up and release an amazing mini-stock. Sounds weird but they impart just the right amount of delicate mussel flavor to whatever you are cooking them in and give it just that tiny bit more depth of flavor. This recipe relies on that tiny bit of stock in addition to some bright and vibrant flavors such as tomatoes, fennel and basil. It is a quick and different recipe that I am sure you will enjoy!
Mussels in a Fennel Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Onion diced finely
4 cloves Garlic roughly chopped
1 bulb Fennel sliced thinly
2 large Tomatoes cut into thin wedges
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2.5 pounds Mussels
1/3 cup torn Basil
1 pack or 3 bundles of Udon Noodles
Salt & Pepper to taste
– Cook Udon noodles in boiling water until they are done and reserve for later*
– Place olive oil in pan on medium heat and place fennel, onions and garlic in pan
– Cook for about 5 minutes or until the fennel is tender
-Pull the pan away from the heat and add your wine and put the pan back on the heat straight away
– Let the wine reduce about 1/3 of the way or cook for 5 minutes
– Add cream and half of the tomatoes
– Add mussels and cover the pan, letting the mussels steam
– Start pulling out the mussels as they open and reserve- throw out the ones that don’t open**
– Once all the mussels are done first taste the broth and season with salt and pepper to your taste preference. Then, place the udon noodles, tomatoes and basil in the sauce and cook until the noodles are heated through.
– Place noodles in a bowl and add your mussels on-top and garnish with basil if you wish
*Make sure to toss the hot noodles with a bit of oil to avoid them sticking together as they cool
** Before you start throwing out the mussels that aren’t opening give them a hard tap on their shells using tongs, sometimes they just need a bit of encouragement.
Using Fresh Mussels??
Make sure that you De-beard and purge the mussels to avoid a gritty and hairy mussel! To purge them, just place the mussels in bowl with fresh water for about 20 minutes(farm raised mussels are normally already purged, but just as a precaution I tend to purge them). To de-beard, just pinch the stringy hairs and pull and give them a good scrub if they need it!