Steamed Mussels with Fennel and Lemon

Gail and I started working at Daniel around the same time. Since then, both of our careers have followed new paths. A native of Eastern Canada, Gail grew up where Prince Edward Island mussels were abundant and combines them here with the Galil’s exotic notes of verbena, sage and cardamom, yet these floral flavors work well with the briny bivalves. You’re going to need extra bread here to soak up every drop of this broth, it’s so simple and addictive.

Galil N.13 – Recipe by Gail Simmons, from “The Art of Blending” by Lior Lev Sercarz

Makes 4 main-course or 8 appetizer servings

Ingredients

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced, about ¾ cup
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ large fennel bulb, fronds chopped and reserved for garnish, bulb very thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups off-dry Riesling
2 tablespoons Galil N.13 spice blend
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Crusty bread, for serving

Instructions

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring to ensure the garlic does not burn for about 1 minute. Add the fennel and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Add the spice blend and stir well to incorporate, then add the mussels. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and steam the mussels until they open, about 8 to 10 minutes, shaking the pot a few times to evenly distribute the ingredients.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a large, shallow bowl (or individual bowls), discarding any mussels that do not open. Add the butter, lemon zest and lemon juice to the broth, swirling until the butter melts and simmer to slightly reduce the cooking liquid, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

3. Slowly pour the broth over the mussels (distributing it evenly if they are in individual bowls), stopping before you reach the bottom of the pot, in case of any accumulated grit. Sprinkle with the chopped fennel fronds. Serve the mussels with the crusty bread.