Black forest mussels with mushrooms and brandy

mushrooms, double cream and onion

The great mussel and clam cookbook, 128pp.
by various contributors
New Holland, Publishers, Sydney, 2002
Cooking on pages 32–33

Seafood was an uncommon ingredient in meals when I was growing up. It was the 1950s and transporting fresh seafood to Nebraska—smack in the middle of the USA—was a challenge. Of course, there were frozen options, but I can only recall my mother and grandmother cooking with fish fingers, tinned tuna and the fresh fish my grandfather caught in a lake during summers.

My first encounter with grilled fresh prawns was on the beach in Alexandria, Egypt. The prawns were gigantic and delicious. Near our table, a local fellow with stainless steel teeth played the bagpipes. How could I forget that?

My first memory of eating mussels was in Belgium in the 1970s, and the best I’ve ever eaten were on the mussel platter for two at The Mussel Pot restaurant in Havelock, New Zealand’s capital of green lip mussels.

I’m still trying to recreate some of the dishes from that amazing array of mussels and figured this book, which I bought secondhand at Canty’s Bookshop, might help.

Black forest mussels with brandy

Black forest mussels with mushrooms and brandy

30g/1 oz butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
145g/5 oz finely sliced black forest mushrooms or field mushrooms
1 clove garlic, chopped
1kg/2 1/4 lb black mussels, cleaned
100ml/3 1/2fl oz white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons thickened or double cream
30ml brandy
fresh parsley

brandy and wine field mushrooms

Place butter, onions, mushrooms and garlic in a pot and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Add mussels, white wine and seasoning. Cook mussels until all mussels have opened, stirring frequently, Add cream and stir for 30 seconds. Add brandy and cook for another 1 minute. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.

Serves 4.

How it played out
Most Sunday afternoons I head out to the Fyshwick Markets for the blitz of specials they have before the market closes for three days. Sometimes mussels are one of the bargains.

Last week I had success and bought a kilo of black mussels for $6. There weren’t any black forest mushrooms—not sure they are even available in Australia—but field mushrooms were plentiful.

Mussel and clam cookbook

Followed the recipe as written, using double cream, St Agnes brandy (an Aussie brand) and a nice dry Blind Side white purchased through Naked Wines, which supports new Aussie winemakers.

Luckily only one mussel didn’t open, so Poor John and I could have a real feast.

I served this with buttered slices of my homemade sourdough rye bread. It’s not on any page 32, but I’m happy to share the recipe if anyone is interested.

A yummy and light meal. Still not quite as good as any of the dishes we had in Havelock, but still well worth repeating whenever mussels are on special.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue my attempts to recreate a memory.

Christmas is nearly here. We’ll be having a lamb roast on the 24th and a spread of seafood on Christmas Day. That reminds me of our Christmas in Brazil’s Pantanal. We started the day fishing for piranha—they are so easy to catch—and then ate the catch for lunch.

mussels and mushrooms



About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
This entry was posted in Fish and seafood, Light meal, Main dish and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Black forest mussels with mushrooms and brandy

  1. afterthelasttime says:

    Sounds delicious, Peggy! I still miss the Fyshwick Markets after all these years! Loved snooping around there and still marvel at your green practice of taking your own containers for the fish and meats you purchased.
    At last Denver has an indoor market however it’s not convenient to me so I haven’t shopped there yet.
    Your holiday meals sound awesome holiday meals of lamb and seafood, they both sound delicious! I’m jealous!
    🎄Merry Christmas!🎅

  2. OhMyMussels! This recipe is gourmand 😀
    Merry Christmas ❤
    Big hugs to you all 😆

  3. sepultura13 says:

    Mmmmmm…looks positively scrummy! I could definitely do this recipe – thanks for sharing!

  4. Mussels and Belgium are one. After WW 2, I was to spend some months in Belgium to join thousands of other Dutch children that needed to fatten up as a result of malnutrition. I landed up with a well to do family who gave me mussels every day. Huge steaming pots of pink coloured mussels. When I was re-united with my parents I had put on weight and spoke only French.
    We know of course that Brussels is the culinary capital of the world.

    • leggypeggy says:

      Oh Gerard, your comment made me laugh. One of our daughters went on exchange in southern Belgium at the age of 16. She learned mostly French ( and some Dutch) and gained a love of mussels. I have a cookbook titled something like No One Goes Hungry in Belgium.

  5. You ate piranha? I had no idea they could be eaten. I thought you were supposed to run away from them as fast as possible. That’s an eye opener for me – eating piranha instead of being eaten by piranha. Think I’ll stick with mussels – or peanut butter and jelly.

    • leggypeggy says:

      Haha, peanut butter and jelly are good too. But seriously, most piranhas are quite small. Our guide said the only people who get eaten by them are drunks who fall in the waterways and don’t sober up and get out.

  6. Sy S. says:

    I made this dish Christmas Evening 2016 (An hour or so ago) and it was a nice treat. Often the mussel dishes I have at restaurants have a touch of tomato taste in them. So I was looking to try this recipe. The local fish store had bags of good fresh, cleaned mussels form Canada; I guess there was about 3 dozen in a mesh bag for $6 USA. I searched Google for Black Forest Mushrooms and saw that many were brightly colored and had nice mushroom shapes.. but no chance of finding them in the woods here or would I know if they were edible (if picked wild). I often use white buttons mushrooms, but decided to use two medium size fresh Portabella Mushrooms… which turned out to be a good choice. I used 3 garlic cloves, white dry wine and no brandy. And I also took your advice Peggy of buttered bread slices. The dish came out very good, dipping the bread in the sauce, drinking the sauce from the bowl LOL and again the mushrooms were tasty. I will definitively try this recipe again one of there days.

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