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Real Good Fish Member Nienke Heij shares her family's tradition of feasting on mussels to honor her great-great grandfather who would harvest them while cleaning his barge boat in the Netherlands.
"This is the mussel story of our family:
Once a year, on Saint Nicholas eve, we eat mussels.
This tradition is born in the late 1800s, when my great-great grandfather was a peat barge captain in The Netherlands. His barge transported peat from the high sandy grounds in the east to the provinces of Holland, where the peat was used as fuel. On the way back, he loaded his barge with vegetables from the rich clay soils, like onions, cabbages and carrots.
Once a year in the beginning of December, he moored his ship on a tidal sandbank, and cleaned the bottom of his ship. He picked off barnacles and mussels and brought them home for the family. Until today, on Sint Nicolas eve, we have a mussel feast!"
Nienke's Family Recipe:
- 2 pounds of mussels per person
- White wine
- Chopped garlic
- Chopped onions, celery and parsley (and carrots)
Clean the mussels very well: place the mussels in a bowl of water. Under slow running water, pick up each mussel, check that's firmly closed and remove the beard. Discard all mussels that are open and all those that are filled with mud.
Place the mussels (up to 2 pounds) in a large pot with lid, together with some garlic, white wine, and the veggies. Close the lid and place on medium heat. When the water comes up- shake the pan with the lid firmly closed. It takes 8-10 minutes until the mussels are open. Poor the mussels into a large bowl.
Repeat this until you prepared all mussels. If you've left overs, remove the mussels from the shell and bake them the next day.
Serve with a baguette, a salad, (french fries), and garlic sauce.