Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mussel Hunting

As Mali and I prepared to move to Santa Cruz we imagined frequent afternoons sunbathing naked on the beach. Our plans were stymied by fierce winds we encountered on the unpopulated beaches up North where we live. All summer we ended up spending only a handful of days on the beach. It seems silly to frolic on the beach in winter, but here I sit basking in sun and realizing that winter might be a better time to visit the beach than the summer. The sand and air are chilled but sun rays on my skin massage the cold away. The ocean emits a constant murmur, then heaves up a groan, followed by a crash and a whisper as it follows the beach up to where I sit. The cycle of sounds interrupted only by chirping and cawing of birds. Other than the hordes of surfers floating in the water, we have the beach to ourselves. We make a little lunch of salami and bread before we head out to find mussels.

You can hunt mussels around here with a California fishing license. They say only to collect mussels in months that contain the letter R due to the red tide in May, June, July, and August. It's best to go during a low or negative tide, but we go when the weather is nice and we have time. We don't always catch a low tide, but we've always found enough-- sometimes at the sacrifice of getting fairly wet.

Once you collect the mussels put them in a bucket full of salt water to transport them home. I clean them by pulling out the beards (the hair they use to hold onto rocks) with a pair of pliers and then I rub them together under water to clean off barnacles and crap from the shells.

For two servings Mali boils about 15 mussels in about 6 cups of water for 15 to 20 minutes. Then she puts the mussels and broth in a bowl and adds one big tablespoon of red miso per bowl.

I've also used mussels we collected in a red curry sauce and it was pretty tastie.

Mali making lunch





Cleaning the mussels


Got these guys at the store


Ready to eat!

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