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mussel broth/stock/essence


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i was thinking about poaching fish in mussel broth and i know i could just use the broth that is left over after white wine steaming them, but it seems like kind of an ineffective way of doing it. i tried a quick google but couldn't find anything on it, so here i am asking eG.

could you just chuck a bunch of mussels in a pot of boiling water, throw a lid on 'til they open up, reduce the heat, simmer, remove the mussels from their shells, throw the meat back in, purée, strain and then reduce? (and somewhere along the way add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar/wine, herbs, spices ofc)

would it be better to first fry shallots and steam them in white wine or something, then add water? any other ideas how to improve upon this? any special herbs, spices, other additions extra suitable?

was thinking maybe monkfish poached in mussel broth.

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I hate to say it, but mussels in a blender is not a pretty picture. It seems a tad harsh--and the end result of straining such a mixture would not exactly be a broth. I think your fish would be overwhelmed. To make a strong stock or essence I think you would just need to remove the mussels after they open and then reduce the mussel broth to make it stronger and poach the fish in that. Admittedly the end result would still be delicate, but then you could use the mussels for something else--like those yummy Armenian stuffed mussels (I can't think of anything else just now, but that works for me!)

The easiest thing to do would be to make a simple soup of mussels and fish, using the mussel broth as your base. If you want to punch it up or make it more intense (and it sounds like you do) you could add tomatoes to the broth for a more Italian style zuppa--or go bistro and add a splash of pernod and a little cream. The fish would essentially poach in the soup broth for the last few minutes of cooking.

By the way, you mention steaming the mussels with a lid on until they open, then reducing the heat and continuing to cook. Ideally small shellfish like mussels and clams need only enough steaming to split open the shells. They will be sweetest and most tender if you get them out of that pot as soon as they pop. And if you add them back to a soup, do it at the very last minute just so they get reheated.

Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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Here's what you get from steaming 5lbs of blue mussels from Newfoundland in plain water:


Pure musselness. Onions, herbs, celery, wine, etc. are all good but IMO all you really need is water to extract the flavor.

If I was enjoying a nice piece of fish poached in mussel broth, which I think is a great idea, I might want an actual intact mussel as well -- even just as a garnish.

I couldn't bring myself to puree these mussels, who gave their lives to make the broth above:


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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yeah, puréeing them is probably overkill, i guess the broth will be flavorfull enough as it is.

how do u feel about making a mussel hollandaise out of the broth instead of poaching the fish in it? i just remember when i ate at Per Se this summer - oysters and pearls was just an absolutely decadent mixture of shellfish flavor, creaminess and a bit of acidity. same should apply to a hollandaise, right?

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In a restaurant setting, the broth is often a 'leftover' from steaming open whatever shellfish.

If you were serving 'stuffed mussels' or whatever, (some even like mussels served like snails, drowned in hot garlic butter), you'd start with steaming the mussels open, giving you the bonus of that fantastic broth.

You might want to use the freezer if you didn't want mussels and broth at the same time!

I soften a little onion with some (important) celery gently in a little oil. Some finely chopped garlic is added when the onion is almost done. As the aroma rises, I add the water, wine, etc (not much!) and wind the heat up to bring it all to the boil before adding the cleaned mussels. A couple of good shakes with the lid held firmly in place and only a couple of minutes over the still high heat is enough to open the shells - and that's all the cooking they need! Sure you can add chopped parsley and/or celery leaves, cream, curry or whatever takes your fancy. But they aren't needed if the mussels are good enough, and somehow, they always seem to be good enough! :biggrin:

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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  • 5 years later...



I know this is an old thread, but I was wondering if a stock made from mussels would taste more intense if I leave the mussels in after they opened and just throw them away afterwards?

Maybe I can use a lower quantity because they stay in longer?

Would it make a big difference in taste if I'm using a combination of mussels and other clams like razor clams?

Would cooking the stock sous-vide work?


Thank you!

Edited by thodesmet (log)
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That's a great series questions, thodesmet. I can't answer any of them with authority, but somebody here probably can.

I *can* say 'Welcome', and I shall: Welcome to eGullet, thodesmet!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

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I've found that people drastically overestimate the flavor transfers that come from poaching and the bulk of the flavor comes not from the infusion, but the tiny bit of liquid that clings to the surface. IMHO, it'd be far better to poach in a relatively neutral liquid and then make a mussel nage or other simple sauce to spoon over the fish before serving.

PS: I am a guy.

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