Steamed Mussels


Contributing Writer
Vicki McGraw
Elegant Edibles Catering

Well, friends, ready or not, Christmas is upon us! I hope you are ready and relaxed! Every year the holiday season seems to fly by quicker than the last, but I try to fit in as much fun as possible in what little time we have.

I have my lists ready, as usual! Because I spend so many hours this month catering to others, once Christmas Eve hits and my time becomes my own again, I have to be prepared. I can settle down and finally enjoy what’s left of the season! As usual, I have been making those lists…gift lists, menus and shopping lists…so I do have an idea of what I need to accomplish in the final day or so. Christmas dinner is always a big thing in our household, but since I will have had a bit of time to relax, New Year’s Eve may be a bit more fun!

I always cook prime rib for Christmas dinner, so this year I plan to serve seafood for New Year’s Eve. While my guys are true carnivores, my favorite foods come from the sea…lobster, of course, but also shrimp, scallops, mussels and fresh fish top my list of favorite foods. One of the best parts of serving fresh seafood is the fact that the prep tends to be much easier and far less time consuming. Cook time is usually a breeze!

Buying fresh fish may be a little intimidating, but it need not be. The most important thing to remember is that fresh seafood should never smell fishy!! When choosing seafood, look for pale colored, sheer looking flesh (actual appearance will vary according to the type of seafood you are choosing, of course!). The flesh may appear translucent or opaque, but should never look or feel slimy, or have anything but a fresh, “salt water” type scent. If you are choosing shell fish (mussels, clams, oysters, etc.), the shell should be firmly closed when raw, and open only after cooking. If the shell is open when you get it, or fails to open when cooked, discard it. Shrimp and lobster should have gray to brown or very dark reddish shells when raw and should become bright red or dark pink after being cooked. As with most anything we cook, you definitely don’t want to overcook seafood, or it will lose its flavor and become rubbery. Remember, many types of fish can be served rare to medium rare (such as fresh tuna), and when all else fails, refer to a recipe- or even to internet- if you have a question about cook time. Fresh seafood is way too good (not to mention expensive!) to be eaten over-cooked!

As I sit at my computer, with a cup of homemade glogg next to me, my thoughts bounce around and settle on this…
After this frequently trying and difficult year may you all experience the joy of good food, loving families, health and happiness over not only this holiday season, but in the New Year! Cheers!!

Steamed Mussels

  • 1 large ripe tomato, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil, finely sliced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 lbs. mussels, well rinsed and shells scrubbed
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • ½ t freshly ground black pepper

Combine first 4 ingredients and set chill until ready to serve.

Place next 5 ingredients in a large, hot sauté pan, cover and let cook for 5-8 minutes, shaking occasionally, cooking until shells have split open. Serve topped with tomato mixture.

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.