In this dish chef Renee Erickson punctuates the sweet flavor and rich texture of mussels with the briny flavors of pickling juice and the crisp freshness of arugula and pea shoots.
Steamed Mussels on Grilled Toast
For the pickled rhubarb
- 2 cups Champagne vinegar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 3 2-inch strips orange zest
- 4 large stalks rhubarb, cut into ¼-inch thick slices, on the bias
For the steamed mussels
- 3 lb. mussels
- 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups thinly sliced green garlic stalk, or scallions
- 2 cups sweet white wine, such as Riesling
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 packed cup arugula
- 1/2 packed cup pea shoots
For the toast
- 2 medium loaves rustic artisan bread, cut into six ¾ inch thick slices (from the center of the loaves)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup aioli or mayonnaise
- Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Small edible flowers for garnish, optional
Make the pickled rhubarb
- Bring the vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, salt, orange zest, and 2 cups of water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Reduce to simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pot form the heat and stir in the rhubarb. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cover, and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely. The rhubarb may be stored refrigerated in the pickling liquid in a covered container for up to 1 week.
Make the steamed mussels
- Rinse the mussels well under cold water. Pick them over, pulling off any beards and discarding any mussels that are broken or gaping open.
- Heat 3 Tbs. of the oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add the mussels, and give a quick stir to combine. Cover and cook, shaking the pot occasionally until the mussels open, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a large bowl, discarding any that did not open. Leave the garlic in the pot with the broth and cover to keep warm. When the mussels are cool, remove them from their shells and put them in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the steaming broth and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate until completely cool.
- Just before serving, pour off any remaining liquid from the bowl of mussels. Toss the mussels with 1/4 cup of the pickled rhubarb, 1 Tbs. of the pickling liquid, the arugula, pea shoots, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Adjust the seasoning to taste and drizzle with the remaining oil.
Make the toast, assemble, and serve
- Prepare a medium-high fire on a gas or charcoal grill. Clean and oil the grates to prevent sticking Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the bread slices. Grill the bread until it browns and gets good grill marks, about 2 minutes. Grill the other side until browned, about 2 minutes, and transfer to a large cutting board to cool.
- Spread one side of each slice generously with the aioli. Top the aioli with the mussels dividing them evenly among the toasts. Add a sprinkling of flaky sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Garnish with the flowers, if using. Serve immediately.