Here is another hyggelig summer dish where you sit outdoors (in your own backyard) enjoying the good weather and hygge with family and friends. After a mild winter in Denmark, mussels can be gather in the low waters of mange coasts. Denmark has very small waves and lots of low waters, so it is pretty easy to find mussels in the Spring. Beaches with large stones, living seaweed and not big waves are best. Be sure and wear boots and push your sleeves up. Look on the side of the stones and feel under the stone. Often there can be found in large groups on the bottom of the beach where the water washes up or sitting on a bar in low waters. Mussels sitting on a large stone doesn’t have so much sand in them. I would love to say, built a fire right there on the beach, and prepare them, but we can’t do that in Denmark. Sankt Hans evening is the only time we built fires on the beach in Denmark. Maybe other countries.
Mussels with White Wine, Leeks and Cream
lbs. mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1½ tbsp. butter
1 leak, cleaned and finely sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
½ bottle of white wine
1 cup heavy cream
To make the mussels, heat a large heavy pot over high heat until very hot. Add butter and fry leeks, add mussels and white wine. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until mussels fully open (discard any that do not open). Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to 4 warmed bowls.
Add cream to pot, reduce soup by half. Season with salt and pepper and spoon over mussels.
To serve, garnish mussels with chopped parsley if you wish and serve immediately.
How to clean mussels
As soon as you get mussels home, put them in a large bowl with cold water to begin cleaning the shells. If there are any fibers on the surface of the shells, use a wire scrubber to remove them. Change the water a couple of times, cover them with a damp cloth, and refrigerate them until you are ready to use them. The beard – the fibrous strand that comes out from between the halves of the shell and is used by the mussel to attach itself to a rock or other surface – must be taken off right before cooking, since removing it kills the mussel. Take the mussel in one hand and, with your other hand, grab the beard between your thumb and the tip of a spoon and pull hard (maybe it is easier to just use your fingers). If you are serving the mussels without their shells, don’t brother bearding them before cooking them. Once shells are open and mussels are cooked, it’s much easier to remove the beard. Any cooked mussels that don’t open are dead and should be discarded.