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February 26th,
written by Arthur
The Spread

Note the bowls of deliciousness for dipping bread.

This post is a throw back to Valentine’s Day.  Yes, it’s been almost two weeks, but the cooking Meg and I got up to was so good I have to recall to this ancient history and write about it.

Essex Market

Essex Market

A few weeks before V-day, after grabbing brunch with friends at the Essex Cafe in the Lower East Side, we swung into the Essex Market.  The Essex Market is a combination of a super market, a farmers market, and random food boutiques (including cheese!).  Actually, the market probably deserves a return trip and a post of it’s own. But I digress.  As we were walking around the market, passing a 1pm beer party at the butcher station, we ran across the seafood area and saw them: bags of mussels for $2.50 a pound. I think that it must be the landlocked Midwesterner in me but I just always assume that any protein coming out of the ocean is going to be expensive.   Whenever I realized how wrong I am my head starts racing with culinary schemes.  But since mussels don’t live long and we already had dinner planned we decided to wait on tasty denizens of the sea.

But  then, the Friday before Valentine’s, Meg went out to lunch with an old  boss and saw Angry Mussels on the app menu.  She didn’t try them there, but was inspired for an at-home go.

As it seems with many things, I’m wasn’t happy with name other people gave this dish and decided that I was going to start calling them the Devil’s Mussels or Devil Mussels instead of Angry Mussels.  I mean mussels aren’t like bears, they can’t look angry!  And, with the spicy ingredients, the Devil’s Mussels is a fitting name.

The first thing we had to do was get mussels, and finding them at Whole Foods for $5 for a 2 pound bag we just had to get two of the 2 pound bags.  That’s right, 4 pounds of mussels for two people.  Bring it on!

The next step is cooking the mussels.  We decided to go with steaming, which is super easy!  First you make a tasty liquid mixture in a big pot. (You don’t need much liquid – only an inch or two.)   In the case of the Devils Mussels, we put together

  • 1 cup white wine
  • 5 teaspoons chili pepper oil
  • 3 teaspoons chili pepper powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Half of an onion, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon

Ideally you want something to keep the mussels out of this liquid a steaming basket or even some tin foil rolled up an place in the bottom of the pot will do.  Still, for some reason, we diced to skip this step and our mussels turned out just fine (just a few had a slightly overly rubbery texture).  All you need to do is get the flavor packed liquid up to a boil, rinse the mussels and set them in the pot to steam for five minutes: until the little guys open up.  In our case, because of the heroic 4 pounds of mussels and a not-so-heroically-sized pot, after 5 minutes a lot of the mussels weren’t open.  But after some careful stirring and another 5 minutes, all of them gave in to the steam and opened up their shells.  After they’re done cooking you’ll need a big bowl to put them and a another big bowl (or a smaller bowl for each person) to put the shells in.

These mussels have a great spicy kick that live up to whatever name you call them by.  Once you start eating them you just can’t stop.  Between Meg and I, we managed to put down all 4 pounds (not as crazy as it sounds given the shells, but still a lot of eating).   One final thing you’ll need is a good baguette.   If you cook mussels right, you’ll have a bunch of tasty liquid you’ll want to sop-up!

Yesterday, taking advantage of  an extended restaurant week menu, Meg and couple fellow Cardozo students headed to Fishtail–the restaurant where Meg first saw the Angry Mussels on the menu.  I was lured in by oysters, but Meg got the mussels and let me try some.  Interestingly, these mussels were dry roasted, not steamed.  They didn’t pack the level of spice we had enjoyed in our home made version, but they had a great delicate lemon flavor that let the briny mussel tasty shine through.  This has given us a some more great mussel ideas: somehow we are going to get some  of these bad boys on the grill this summer and next time we steam, the amount of lemon juice is going get kicked up.

All in all, mussels are an incredibly easy do-it-at-home seafood meal where you can eat yourself silly for the price you would pay for a small mussel appetizer at a restaurant.



  1. […] control.  If you venture off the pizza menu, mussels in a spicy marinara sauce (on the list to be made cheaply at home), served with focaccia to soak up the extra sauce, is sure to be a […]

  2. […] the start of the 2011 countdown we reach all the way back to February to recall Angry (Devil) Mussels.  These spicy crustaceans were great the first time around, but they made their way into the top […]

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