Mussels without the... mussels?
January 29, 2017 8:54 AM   Subscribe

I love the sauce that mussels are cooked in, but really don't like the mussels themselves. Recipes/substitutions that also have that buttery, herby, white wine-y juice, for baguette dipping heaven?

Everything is on the table except:

* Fish or any "fishy" seafood
* Escargot

Thanks in advance!
posted by functionequalsform to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Scallops Provencal: the scallops have little taste in and of themselves and are certainly not "fishy". Be sure to ask the fishmonger if they are "dry scallops" which is what you want. The supermarket kind usually have water added which makes them impossible to cook right.
posted by beagle at 9:02 AM on January 29, 2017

If it's the taste of the mussels ("fishy") and not the slippery texture, you could substitute oyster mushrooms in any recipe for mussels in white wine, butter and garlic.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:11 AM on January 29, 2017 [12 favorites]

I use a version of this Serious Eats recipe, and especially like how it has you reduce the steaming liquid by half for more concentrated flavors, then whisk in an enriching agent to thicken and, well, enrich the sauce further. Could you try it and just skip the "add mussels" step? Or use the mushrooms mentioned or other substitutions that will surely be mentioned later?
posted by spelunkingplato at 9:16 AM on January 29, 2017

You have this internet stranger's permission to cook the mussels just for the broth, which is the only reason to ever eat them anyway IMO. You wouldn't feel remorse throwing away the bones after making chicken stock, right?
posted by STFUDonnie at 9:22 AM on January 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

Have you tried simply following a recipe for steamed mussels, but leaving out the mussels? If you like the result, there, you have your answer. If not, then maybe you do like a mussel-flavored broth, but not the mussels themselves. In that case, you could try adding some bottled clam juice, or perhaps some shrimp in the shell (this is popular in Louisiana as a "shrimp boil"). Or you could steam some mussels & discard them.
posted by mr vino at 9:22 AM on January 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Compound butter and tomato concasse on steaks...
Wilted spinach salads...
Do a variation on a grilled Caesar salad...
Get fancy with your collard greens so your grandma has a stroke...

What the sauce is generally considered is an a la minute sauce...

So here's how I do arugala (not the baby crap), dandelion fronds, various chards and anything acidic except collard greens (which require a lot of time to break down)
Warm pan-> Butter or Butter and Olive Oil into a small sauce pan-> add thin-sliced shallots and a fresh bay leaf->
Alcohol anything from a dry sherry, a sav blanc, even a bourbon or whiskey, to a Madeira-> turn pan so sauce gathers in corner-> ignite-> throw in your lardons, fatback, or uncured smoked bacon-> now add the greens and small sliced tomatoes (if you are using cherry tomatoes or similar size, use whole. If you are using big tomatoes and cutting them up you need to concasse them - score back, drop into boiling water, peel skin, slice in half at equator, and pull out seeds, then chop to size)-> toss the whole thing-> lid to wilt->serve. The whole process (ignoring cutting) takes about 10 minutes, with the greens and tomatoes only wilting for about 2-3 minutes tops.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:27 AM on January 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think Deb at Smitten Kitchen has exactly what you are looking for:

Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms
If only I knew the secret: escargot! No, I don’t mean that they were pulling some horsefat-in-the-vegetarian-French-fries kind of controversy, but more or less, they were giving the mushroom caps the escargot treatment, which is to say that they cooked them in a serious helping of garlic butter, zinged it with lemon juice and showered it with fresh flat leaf parsley and as any escargot lover will tell you, snails are great and all but really, it’s all about those puddles you scoop out with pieces of crusty baguette.
I have made this recipe dozens of times. It's fabulous and whenever I've served it people make indecent noises at the table and get every last drop from the dish. (I don't even like mushrooms that much, but they add that amazing umami mouthfeel to this recipe.) I use a lot more lemon juice, but in your case, I'd go with a splash of white wine at the end (or maybe even the beginning?) to get closer to the sauce mussels are served in.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 9:44 AM on January 29, 2017 [29 favorites]

A little afield but chorizo braised in cider gives you a winey, rich sauce for dipping. Recipes abound online.
posted by ftm at 9:54 AM on January 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

you could substitute oyster mushrooms in any recipe for mussels in white wine, butter and garlic.

I agree, although I think I'd probably add couple of (rehydrated) dried porcini in, to mimic the muskiness of the mussel.
posted by howfar at 10:26 AM on January 29, 2017

I would sautee a variety of mushrooms (some fresh and some dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms) with chopped onions in oil + butter + salt, til they are very soft and savoury. Then pretend the mushrooms are mussels and make winey mussel broth around them. Then you can strain out the mushrooms if they're not your jam, or enjoy them with the broth. I feel like that would give your broth some nice umami without fishiness.
posted by spraypaint at 10:54 AM on January 29, 2017

Finely diced shallots cooked in white wine/butter until the shallots become a gummy thickening agent. Then add whatever you like (shrimp?).
posted by 445supermag at 12:43 PM on January 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love mussels but I do vegetarian subs very often, mostly with mushrooms as suggested above, but also with jerusalem artichokes and/or salsify. I suspect it would be great with many other root vegetables as well, maybe even potatoes.

I do them exactly as I would do mussels: first make a very finely diced soffrito of shallots, celery, carrot and garlic, and soften this in plenty hot butter or finest olive oil. Then add white wine or Noilly Prat and cook till the alcohol has evaporated. Then add the main element in thick slices and steam under a lid till you like the texture (3-10 mins). Add salt, pepper, lemon to taste and stir well. Sprinkle with plenty of parsley. Can be served hot or cold. Always with a crusty sourdough bread.

If you don't mind it, you can add fish sauce or oyster sauce for extra umami, but I never do.

I've been thinking whether there might might be any good meat replacements for the mussels, but nothing really comes to mind, so vegetable versions are probably the way to go. I can imagine doing something like this for quenelles de veau (rough translation: veal meatballs), but still it would be much more meaty than what I associate with mussels.
posted by mumimor at 1:42 PM on January 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Seconding mushrooms, but adding a red wine variant to the mix: This Burgundy Mushrooms recipe from Ree Drummond is kill-you good. Recipe calls for cooking them for 9 hours, but I've done it in 4 and they're still incredible.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:56 PM on January 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Shrimp scampi meets your requirements, though if you're not so into shrimp or don't want to mess with it, you can omit the shrimp and just serve the sauce over pasta, like in this recipe.

I also enthusiastically second the garlic-butter mushrooms from Smitten Kitchen above.
posted by rhiannonstone at 5:35 PM on January 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bagna cauda with capers rather than anchovies is great for people who aren't into fish - using that sub alongside a bagna cauda recipe that uses white wine should be pretty delicious.
posted by blerghamot at 7:04 PM on January 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

You have this internet stranger's permission to cook the mussels just for the broth, which is the only reason to ever eat them anyway IMO. You wouldn't feel remorse throwing away the bones after making chicken stock, right?

Absolutely. Part of what make the sauce taste the way is does is that it is made with the liquid used to steam the mussels, plus liquid that the mussels release as they cook.
posted by Dolley at 1:49 PM on January 30, 2017

Mrs. Sourcequench just made the Smitten Kitchen "Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms" for tonight's dinner, and I can personally testify that it's delicious. It pairs wonderfully with Southern Star Bombshell Blonde Ale, BTW.
posted by sourcequench at 6:41 PM on January 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

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