Why do we save mussels for a rare treat that we only enjoy in fancy restaurants on special occasions? Mussels are so easy to prepare at home, and quite economical as well. I’m a firm believer that every day can be a special occasion, and we should treat ourselves often. Miso Ginger Mussels are an easy and fast way to bring that fancy restaurant vibe home. Loaded with peppery ginger, umami rich miso, and sweetened with sake, this Japanese take on mussels makes an amazing starter or main course. So chill a bottle of wine, and in just ten minutes, you will be treated to a fancy restaurant meal, no reservations required.
Mussels, like clams, are sold alive. They should smell briny in a pleasant way, and their shells should be tightly closed. If you get them home and have one with an open shell, give it a firm tap. If the shell doesn’t close back up, discard it. Because it is a live product, keep the mussels refrigerated in the coldest back section of your fridge until ready to use. It’s best to use them within a day or two tops.
Mussels should be thoroughly rinsed right before cooking to remove any grit. If they have any fuzzy looking hair poking out the side of the shell, which is called the beard, it should be removed. Just grab one end of it and pull it off before proceeding.
Miso Ginger Sauce
This mussel recipe goes back to the 80s. Back in the day, mussels were plentiful but they were mostly wild. Unlike cultivated mussels which are fairly small, have minimal beard build up, and have a mild flavor, wild mussels are well, wild. They come in all different sizes and colors, have a lot of beard surrounding the shell, and have a pronounced, stronger flavor. I eat plenty of seafood, both strong and mild, and I love the wild ones. However, not everyone shares my enthusiasm. So in order to appeal to many appetites, we created a robust sauce to pair with the strong flavor of the mussels. Nowadays, wild mussels are hard to find, but this sauce works just as well on farmed ones.
This miso ginger sauce is just rich and thick enough to mask any “fishy” flavors that might scare off seafood newbies, but not so thick that it overwhelms the delicate shellfish. The ginger gives it some zing and freshness, and the sake some depth. Plus, the sauce is so easy- just whisk the sake, sugar, and miso until the sugar dissolves. And you’re pretty much done.
And my favorite part? Mussels release liquid as they cook. This liquor mixes with the sauce to create an intensely flavorful broth. This stuff is so good. Sop it up with some good bread, drizzle some over rice, or even cook up some noodles/pasta on the side and pour it on top. You won’t want it to go to waste!
Set the sauce aside, and then shred the ginger and smash the garlic. 3 tablespoons of ginger may seem like a lot but it adds so much zest to the mussels.
You are now just 5 minutes away from Miso Ginger Mussels goodness!
After just a few minutes, all the mussels should be open. I like to serve them in the cooking pot so none of the juices are wasted. I also garnish them with scallions, a drizzle of sesame oil, and some lemon wedges. Miso Ginger Mussels elevate any night into a special occasion. Pair them with Almond Jello for a sophisticated but incredibly easy meal. Make them tonight and let us know what you think by rating and commenting on the recipe below. And show us your gorgeous piles of mussels by tagging @funkyasiankitchen in your pics!
- 2 pounds mussels, rinsed and drained
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- 6 cloves garlic smashed
- 3 tablespoons peeled and shredded ginger
- ½ cup sake
- ½ cup white miso
- 4 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons chopped scallions
- 4 wedges lemon
- Wash and drain the mussels well.
- Mix the sake, sugar, and miso in a cup and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- Heat a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the neutral oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the ginger and the garlic and stir fry for 10-15 seconds. Now add the mussels and stir.
- Pour the sauce over the mussels. Cover the mussels with a tight fitting lid and cook for 2 minutes.
- Take off the lid and stir gently so the mussels on top go to the bottom of the pan.
- Cover again and cook for 1 additional minute. The mussels should be open. If not, stir again and cook for another minute.
- Drizzle with the sesame oil. Either transfer the mussels to a large platter or serve directly from the pan. Garnish with scallions and lemon wedges and serve.
*Rinse your mussels right before cooking, pulling off any strands of beard that cling to the shell. Tap on the mussels to check that they are alive. They should start to close up. Discard any mussels that do not close.
*I like to serve something to soak up the amazing mussel broth. Some nice crusty bread, a bowl of steaming rice, or even some simple noodles are good options.
*If you have leftovers, take the mussels out of the shell and pack them with any remaining sauce in a container and refrigerate. When you want to eat the leftovers, bring the sauce up to a simmer over medium high heat in a small pan. Add the mussels and stir them. Cover the pan and turn off the heat. Let the mussels sit for a minute to warm up and then serve. (Since the mussels are already cooked, re-cooking them would cause them to get very tough and shrink. A gentle re-warming is best.)