A week from Saturday, on June 28th, I'll be in Englishtown, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for the annual Mussel Festival.
Englishtown is the place along the scenic Cabot Trail where you catch the cable ferry across St. Anne's Harbour, and it's the home town of Angus MacAskill
. During the mid 1800's he was known for his remarkable size: 7'-10" and 580 lbs. He traveled with P.T. Barnum's circus and you'll find his picture in Ripley's Believe It Or Not
as well as The Guinness Book of World Records
. Apparently he would jog down the street with a 300 lb barrel of pork - under each arm.
One of the festival activities is a seafood cooking competition complete with professional judges and prizes. I missed it last year but did well the year before - a first place finish and a new set of pots. That day I felt as big as the Giant MacAskill himself.
Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of that 2006 entry but I'll look for a concept sketch. I cut cedar shingles into 3" squares and layered on steamed mussels and cured salmon, then "planked" them on the gas grill for a smoky look and taste. There was a sour cream dollop on top with chives and lemon.
This year I'm thinking Japanese, as some members over in that forum
will guess since they've graciously answered many questions about mirin, dashi and sashimi. Here's what I'm thinking:
It's steamed mussels maki style, rolled up with carrot and chive. It's placed on a half shell with a wasabi pearl.
The shell makes a nice little vessel for mixing soy and wasabi, which until recently I had no idea was so controversial.
I also tried it this way:
and this way:
Esteemed Society member Hiroyuki tells me sushi chefs in Japan never use mussels simply because they are not native to the region, and that they are basically regarded as a classic French cuisine item. Unlike oysters and even clams, mussels are never eaten raw - as far as I know. I'm pretty sure uncooked mussels would not go over very well.
As the contest is just over a week away, I'm hoping to get some constructive criticism here. . .
Edited by Peter the eater, 19 June 2008 - 06:24 PM.