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Friday, April 3, 2015

All You Need to Know About Mussels and Catch on the Web

Dear Friends of Famously Fabulously Fresh Fish,

Guess what?  You can now buy Kathleen's Catch online!  We have lots of fans that now live in other cities and we wanted to make our products available to everyone.    Check us out here www.kathleenscatch.com.  We just went live this week, but even after months of work, there are probably still a few changes to be made so if you spot something that needs fixing, PLEASE let us know.  Take a look if you get a chance because you just might find some staff pictures and a poem or two.  Maybe you have an out of town friend or two who doesn't have access to the freshest fish available.  Send them the link - they'll thank you for it.  And so will I.

This Week's Special
In honor of halibut season, this week's special is, well, halibut.  $11.25/6 ounces.

Catch to Go
Honey Jalapeno Salmon over Black Bean and Corn Salad
Roasted Halibut with Green Beans and Asian Cilantro Sauce
Parmesan Salmon with Asparagus
Swordfish with Lemon Caper Sauce over Squash and Zucchini

All You Wanted to Know About Mussels

There's been much pent up demand for black mussels since the weather shut down operations at Prince Edward Island.  Now that they are available again, I thought I would whet your appetite with a little bit about them.  Grab some this weekend and experience these easy, inexpensive and delicious little sea treasures.

What is a rope cultured mussel?

In the spring, mussel farmers begin collecting seeds by hanging "spat collectors" or  frayed ropes from a main horizontal rope line suspended between buoys.  These collectors provide a surface for the mussel larvae that are swimming in the ocean to attach themselves to.

 Spat Collectors

Throughout the spring and summer, mussel larvae continue to attach to the collectors and by fall they have grown into seeds which are large enough to be "socked."  This process involves taking the seeds from the collectors and placing them in socks made from plastic mesh.  These socks are then hung from the horizontal rope lines and spend the winter about six feet below the surface of the water to avoid damage from the ice.

Socks

There's not much to do to care for the mussels in the socks because all the nutrients they need to survive are right there in the waters around Prince Edward Island.  The farmer's job is to keep the mussels safe from predators (starfish, seabirds), make sure the socks are clean so that the mussels can get the food in the water and to continue to add flotation to the long lines to keep it from sinking under the increasing weight of the socks.


 Starfish munching on a mussel

After about two years in the socks, the mussels are ready to harvest. In the winter, the PEI bays are covered in as much as 4 feet of ice. To harvest the mussels below the surface, growers use chain saws to cut through the ice and scuba divers to help haul the line up through the ice

 Mussel farmers driving to work - March 2015

After harvest, the mussels are taken to processing plants where they are removed from the socks, washed, graded, de-bearded  and sent to market.


Mussels at Kathleen's Catch


How to cook them?  Mussels are best if you steam them.  Try this:

Chop an onion and 6 cloves of garlic and cook in 1/4 cup of olive oil until the onion is transparent.  Stir in 3 tablespoons chopped parsley and 2 cups drained chopped canned San Marzano Tomatoes in Thick Puree, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.  Simmer all this for about 25 minutes, partially covered.

Take a look at your mussels (about 1/2 lb per person) and toss the ones that have damaged shells or do not close when they are handled.  Rinse them (no need for soaking our mussels) and  debeard any that might have been missed in the processing plant by tugging the  beard down to the hinged-end of the mussel shell and then pulling it off.

Stir the mussels into the sauce, cover the pan and cook for about three minutes, occasionally shaking the pan.  Remove any mussels that have opened and return the lid to the pan.  Continue steaming, shaking and checking until all mussels have opened and been removed.  If the mussels don't open after 8 minutes, toss them.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper and pour over the mussels.  Serve with pasta and a slab of hot bread.

What wine?  Johns Creek Wine and Crystal expert (Scott) and Kathleen's Catch wine expert (Colin) agree that Georges Burrier Saint-Veran Burgandy, 2013 ($29.99) is the perfect accompaniment.  It's lemony, tart and creamy.  Delicious. 

And Finally

Hope you have a great weekend.  It's going to be lovely weather to celebrate Easter or Spring or whatever life-affirming experience you can commemorate.  Take some Benadryl and get outside to smell the flowers.

Blessings,
Kathleen


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