Wednesday, May 13, 2015


A little bowl of happiness after an ocean of work                                                                                                               Mans
It is remarkable what lengths some people will go to, just so they can tell a good story. I hope this smoked mussel blog is no exception.
Sometime ago I wrote a blog on ‘Snoek’ (, which all took place aboard my friend Mark Mark’s yacht, Deep Magic. After many moons of good service (mostly irresponsible adventures and parties aboard) she was laid to rest in Hout Bay yacht basin. For years she remained untouched and decaying, until Mans and I struck up a rather informal deal with Mark Mark. Our part is to fix her up so we can continue having the adventures aboard that we love so dearly.

Under all that marine life is a boat                                                                                                                                         UHG
Cold and hungry making work                                                                                                                                              Mans
Apart from having to haul out a very corroded motor (which has now been left in the capable hands of Zaan, our resourceful roadside mechanic), we had to scrape the hull, which had developed its own marine ecosystem. It was a shame to watch the clumps of dislodged mussels slowly disappear into the murky depths of the harbour. It seemed obvious that a ‘little something’ should be prepared from all the delicious protein that was otherwise going to waste.

If it's mussels or mushrooms, I like to clean them out in nature rather than in the kitchen                                           Mans
  These mussels needed a really good purge                                                                                                                          UHG
Cleaned, purged and ready for the pot                                                                                                                                    UHG
A while back a happy little crew created our first video blog using mussels as the key foraged ingredient ( In the spur of the moment we called that dish ‘Magic Mussels’, which I always thought was a bit unimaginative, but things often seem to have a delightful way of turning out. May we now present to you ‘Deep Magic Mussels’!

Cook them until they just open and no more                                                                                                                          UHG
A bucket of mussels
A couple of glugs of white wine
A smoker of some sort
Saw dust (oak wine barrel in this case)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Shelled and ready for a an overnight soaking to insure plumpness                                                                                  UHG
Find a yacht hull that desperately needs attention and get down to some chilly breath-holding work… or simply buy some mussels at your local fishmonger. Clean them of any barnacles and other growth. Now purge them of their impurities by soaking them in clean seawater overnight. Because of the dubious quality of the harbour water I collected fresh seawater from a purer source and soaked them for three days in my fridge, changing the water every day. Remove any that are not now closed.

In a large pot, bring the wine to a furious boil then toss in the mussels and cover until they gape open. Remove the mussels (discarding those that didn’t open) and allow to cool. Strain the ‘broth’ though some muslin cloth and reserve for later. Pick the mussels from their shells, pull off their beards and soak overnight in the reserved broth, so they can get nice and plump.

Nice and swollen, now for a good old smoking                                                                                                                    UHG
Now they are ready for some ‘smokin’. I have a lovely old smoker that my dad left me, but you can fashion one from a pot. You need to line the base of the pot with foil (makes cleaning easier), then cover generously with ‘smoking sawdust’, place a round baking rack over the sawdust and stack your mussels on it. Overlap a sheet of foil on top of the pot and cover with the lid so it forms a tight seal. Smoke on a low heat for about 40 minutes until the mussels are rich and golden, yet still plump. Pop them into a bowl and toss them about in a little olive oil. Like this they’ll keep for about ten days in the fridge, or you can tightly pack them in a glass jar and cover with olive oil, this way they’ll keep for months.

This kind of shit makes me very very happy                                                                                                                         Mans
Racked and ready to receive some smokiness                                                                                                                  Mans
After days and days of harvesting, cleaning, purging, cooking, straining, soaking, smoking and tossing, these golden nuggets were gobbled in no time. Yes, it is remarkable what some 'show-offs' will do in search of an interesting story.

These little fellows were scrumptious                                                                                                                                      Mans

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