Mussels Steamed with Ginger

Mūrugai no shōga Mushi

This recipe was inspired by a recent trip to Seattle, where the tiny Penn Cove mussels that are native to the Pacific Northwest region are among the sweetest, plumpest, loveliest I’ve tasted! The ginger-steaming method is the genius of Tom Douglas at Cafe Sport, a restaurant at Pike Place Market on Puget Sound. He has been greatly influenced by Japanese technique and presentation, as this recipe shows.

Ingredients

  • 3 dozen fresh mussels, preferably small bivalves
  • 2 tōgarashi (dried red chili peppers)
  • 6-8 square inches dashi kombu (kelp for stock making)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 slender scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 small knob (about ½ ounce) fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine julienne
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • juice of ½ small lemon

Method

  1. Soak the mussels in salty water for 20-30 minutes, to help disgorge any sand. Scrub the mussels well with a brush under cold running water. Remove the “beards.”
  2. Break the pepper pods in half and discard the seeds, unless you want the mussels to be especially hot.
  3. Combine the chili peppers and all the other ingredients in a large wide pot and bring to a boil, covered, over high heat. Add the scrubbed mussels and cover the pot tightly. Steam until the mussels open (you can hear them popping), about 3-3½ minutes.
  4. Discard the kelp and pepper pods and serve immediately, with the pot juices poured over the mussels.