Credit: Earl Carter

Mussels with kombu butter

David Moyle is a chef. He is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Earl Carter

I recently spent my weekend collecting and cooking shellfish in the pristine waters of southern Tasmania.

It’s a pastime I really enjoy. Collecting shellfish provides a strong connection with nature and requires observation and an understanding of the environment from which they are harvested.

In aquaculture, mussels are a pretty magical part of our food system. They have a restorative impact on their environment from filter feeding that can result in one mussel processing more than 100 litres of water in a 24-hour period. This filtering also means that no food inputs are required.

Mussels are effectively immobile in nature and therefore replicating their natural existence is relatively simple. Because of this, they have become integral to the development of integrated ocean farming systems.

But above all of this, mussels are both interactive and nourishing. We too often forget to celebrate and appreciate a singular object, instead always gourmandising by adding more.


Serves 4

  • 2kg mussels (scrubbed and de-bearded)
  • 300ml dry white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 30g kombu sheets (soaked in fresh water then shredded)
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Divide the mussels and the white wine into two batches.
  2. Heat a heavy-based pot (with a lid), then add the mussels and wine in two parts, agitating them as they hit the hot pan.
  3. As each mussel begins to open, remove it to a separate container.
  4. When the mussels are all open, tip the contents into one bowl and let it cool.
  5. Strain the stock back into the pot, add the sliced garlic and kombu and reduce the liquid by half. Add the butter and the lemon juice and stir through.
  6. Grind the black pepper over the mussels, then pour the finished sauce on top.
  7. Serve with crusty bread.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on December 15, 2018 as "A winning kombu ".

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