My mom was visiting last week and we spent hours trolling Granville Island (a tucked-away nook of Vancouver, with an enormous market, restaurants, and lots of art galleries). We were in search of new art supplies and the freshest seafood.
Mom’s mussels are something I eagerly anticipate emerging from her kitchen every summer. Even though she visited me this year, instead of me making my annual August pilgrimage to New Brunswick, I still wanted to experience the briny, garlicky smell that brings me right back home. So when Stella Artois invited me to join them in celebrating their six hundred years of Belgian brewing heritage with a heritage recipe of my own, I settled right away on this one!
We’re from the North Atlantic and fresh seafood is deeply entrenched in the regional culinary history. Furthermore, I lived in Belgium for a year (getting an education in French language, magnificent food, and incredible beer among other things) and experienced some phenomenal mussels, which are also a huge part of their own traditional cuisine, typically served with crispy frites – french fries.
This summer, Stella Artois engaged three female food mavens to create a video series called The Butcher, The Baker, The Belgian Beer Maker honouring women in craft, and the role they (we!) have in modern tastemaking. I really enjoyed the videos, so I’m sharing one here – The Baker, featuring Aliya LeeKong.
Since free-styling and improvising are as much part of my own cooking heritage as the recipes themselves, Mom and I crafted a variation on her mussels, using malty, crisp Stella Artois to steam the mussels in place of wine. The result was (unsurprisingly) delicious!
Onions, celery, garlic and diced, fresh tomatoes are first softened in butter before the blonde pilsner is added and the mussels are stirred in. They cook very quickly and are done as soon as the shells pop open.
Discard any that don’t open, as it may mean they weren’t alive.
The broth is richly flavourful and perfectly seasoned by the salinity of the mussels themselves (so be sure to taste before you decide to add salt!). You’ll need lots of crusty bread to mop it up, and of course a cold Stella Artois pairs beautifully!
It was so nice to spend time with mama in the kitchen, bringing a taste of “real” home to my new home.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 cup Stella Artois
- 1.35 kg mussels
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more.
- Stir in tomato and Stella Artois, then add mussels. Cover pot and cook about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mussel shells open (discard any that don’t). Stir in parsley and ladle into bowls.