In what has become a holiday tradition, we took the hour-long drive down to Newlyn to buy shellfish from the harbour wall. The Newlyn fishmongers are the real deal; there is no fuss, just glistening fresh north Atlantic fish presented on slabs of ice. Turbot, sole, whiting, mackerel, monkfish, scallops, mussels, crabs (spider and brown), little tiny prawns, lobster, dab… I would have happily taken home the lot. Even better, the prices are cheaper than in Brum, which I suppose is what you’d expect given that the fishing boats land 100m away.
We bought a kilo of mussels, filthy with seaweed. They needed a good soak and a lengthy pick with a small knife to loosen off the beards and general detritus. But cleaned up, these were the king of mussels, fat and full.
I steamed them open in white wine, garlic and shallots, then finished the sauce with a handful of parsley and a dollop of clotted cream. We mopped up the sauce with crusty sourdough, bought from a tiny deli near Newlyn Art Gallery. To finish, new season cherries and strawberries.
1 kilo mussels, thoroughly cleaned
1 shallot, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Dry white wine, about a wine-glass full
Clotted cream, about a tablespoon
Flat-leaf parsley, a good handful
In a wide-lidded frying pan or saucepan, melt a knob of butter with the olive oil on a medium heat. When frothing, add the shallot and soften for a minute or two. Add the garlic and cook until the scent rises – about 20 seconds. Toss in the mussels with the white wine, give the pan a shake, then cover and leave to cook. The mussels will open in the steam, it usually takes about 3 or 4 minutes. When nearly done, dollop in the cream and the parsley and shake to combine. Cook for a minute more, then serve. Good crusty bread is essential to mop up the juices.