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Simply Special: how to cook Scottish mussels

Not too far in the future I shall  be sitting outside the Nether Abbey in North Berwick, dining in the glorious sunshine, tucking into a large bowl of hot steaming mussels with a glass of something nice on the side. (Their mussel sauce is awesome!)

Mussels in tarragon
Mussels in tarragon

However, as lovely as that sounds, we are back to chilly February but the good news is that the amazing Scottish mussels are actually at their best in the winter so I think it’s our job to keep them company. By adding some of simple ingredients you will end up enjoying a very satisfying meal, even if it is indoors.

I’m always amazed when adults say they have never tried mussels before. It was one of the first things I ordered for my daughter and I’m sure she was one and a half at the time.

As you’ll know eating out with young children can be quite difficult, however,  after the waiter brought all the bits and pieces that go along with the mussels she was hooked. She absolutely loved picking all the perfect orange lumps of juicy mussel and using the tweezer method by pinching the new out with an old shell.

So if young ones can do it give it a bash. Head off to your local fishmonger and get some fresh live mussels.....not the ones in the vacuum pack!

Mussels in tarragon

2kg of mussels in the shell

20g of Scottish butter or 1 tablespoon of Summer Harvest rapeseed oil

2 shallots, diced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 bay leaf

140ml of dry white wine

A couple of sprigs of tarragon plus 2 tablespoons of leaves, finely chopped

4 tablespoons of crème fraiche

1 Wash the mussels under running water and pull out any beards. If any are open, give them a wee tap to see if they will closed, if they don’t then bin them

2 In a large pan soften the shallot , garlic and bay leaf in the oil or butter for one minute

3 Add the white wine and tarragon sprigs for 30 seconds then tip in the mussels and pop on the lid

4 Cook for 3-4 minutes until they have all opened

5 Stir through the crème fraiche, chopped tarragon and some ground black pepper

6 Serve immediately into warm bowls. Have some bread on the side to soak up the sauce or have a soup spoon to hand.

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