Pan-Roasted Mussels with OS

pan roasted salt spring island mussels with OS

The first day I read through Momofuku, the Pan-Roasted Mussels with OS stood out. The mussels in the photo looked like a delicious mess of good flavours and the real thing didn’t disappoint. The first mussel I put in my mouth was ‘WOW’.

mussels, sake, grapeseed oil, soy sauce, ginger, green onions, garlic, shiro miso

I don’t really cook a lot of seafood at home, not even fish. I love the stuff, but somehow I just feel intimidated by ocean creatures even though I grew up watching my mom butcher fish, crab and lobster like there was no tomorrow. I’m a seafood rookie: I’ve never scaled, filleted, or even bought fish that wasn’t on a styrofoam tray. Being a new at buying seafood, the first place I thought of to get some were the fish tanks at T&T.

Mike was outright against that idea from the start.

Mike: I’m not going to eat mussels from T&T.
Me: Ok, I’ll eat them all myself!
Mike: Yeah…that way I can drive you to the hospital.
Me: Why would I need to go to the hospital?

Eating dead mussels possibly could result in a hospital trip, but I personally think Mike was just being melodramatic. Even so, the mussels at T&T were really sad and mostly dead I think. I just didn’t feel good about buying them, so I had to accept the fact that I was wrong about T&T seafood.

OS sauce: shiro miso, green onions, garlic, ginger, light soy sauce

With T&T out of the picture, the next logical place to buy mussels was Whole Foods. There’s a world of difference between T&T seafood and Whole Foods seafood. At T&T there are these little red baskets where you can self-scoop mussels out of a tank of mussels with their shells open. You’re not really sure what kind of mussels they are or where they’re from, you just know they’re mussels. At Whole Foods the mussels are on ice, clearly labelled Salt Spring Island Mussels, and there’s a helpful Fish Boy who’ll hand pick your mussels for you.

Me: So…how do you know they’re alive?
Fish Boy: Oh, if they’re closed they’re alive.
Me: What if they’re open a little bit?
Fish Boy: They could still be OK, you just give them a little tap and if they close up, they’re still good.
Me: So, can you eat them if they’re dead?
Fish Boy: HA HA HA HA HA. No, they’re DEAD!
Me: (in my head) Aren’t they dead when you eat them?
Me: (out loud) Oh. So you can’t eat them if they’re open?
Fish Boy: NO! They’re DEAD! Mussels are really finicky. Some of these guys are going to die by the time you eat dinner.
Me: (in my head) Won’t all of them be dead when I’m eating dinner?
Me: (out loud) Oh. Ok.

After that little exchange Fish Boy put some ice in the bag and didn’t even seal it up. Apparently if you close up the bags the mussels will suffocate and DIE. I really liked Fish Boy. He was super-helpful, even running and jumping over a flat bed dolly to get us a basket even though we were heading over there.

OS sauce smashed

Fish Boy totally made me paranoid about the mussels being DEAD so I hurried home fast to makes sure that they were all alive by the time I got them in the pot.

The mussels are cooked in a pretty typical fashion: pan fried in a little bit of oil then steamed with some sake. What makes them Momofuku is the sauce, the OS, which stands for Oriental Sauce.

There’s a funny little anecdote about OS in the book. Chang likes “appropriating the out-of-date and borderline-racist term Oriental whenever he gets the chance.” So there would be Chang, the only Asian in a kitchen full of non-Asians telling them to toss mussels in the Oriental Sauce. No one else was happy with it (the term being borderline racist and all) so they shortened it to OS.

mussels and a loaf of bread

The OS is made up of shiro, sherry vinegar, ginger, green onions, and garlic. It was pretty salty. I’m starting to think that my white miso has a higher salt quantity than Chang’s. I find everything I use the shrio miso in ends up being a touch saltier than expected.

The mussels were good: plump, juicy and so full of ocean goodness, they almost didn’t even need the OS. I’d cook this again, reducing the amount of miso in the sauce. I was wrong to be intimidated by cooking mussels. Cooking them wasn’t as crazy as I thought and the mussels came out awesome: sweet, umami packed bites of flavour.

all gone!

As a new seafood cook, I learned one important thing today: don’t buy seafood from T&T unless it’s swimming in one of the tanks and you’re absolutely sure that it’s alive.

empty shells

14 Comments add yours

  1. I think Fish Boy should be a re-ocurring character in your blog, lol.

    Fish Boy was really helpful! Hopefully I see him again.

    steph on February 9th, 2010 at 12:28 pm
  2. Hmm… haven’t made this one yet, sounds delicious. Yum.

    Bbq Dude,
    Can you ever go wrong with mussels? :)

    steph on February 9th, 2010 at 12:28 pm
  3. Great! This looks so easy, saving it for a mid-week dinner after a trip to the fish markets.

    Thanks! Hope the mussels work out for you!

    steph on February 10th, 2010 at 1:16 am
  4. I can see why this recipe stood out for you! Looks delicious. I was going to say as well that mussels are generally already very salty – you’re right probably didn’t need the OS sauce!

    Hey Trissa,
    Mmm…mussels. I loved the OS sauce too, next time I’ll just use less!

    steph on February 11th, 2010 at 12:56 pm
  5. Just made this tonight. I love the momofuku cookbook but totally agree – the Miso is way too salty. I am using 2 TBS next time max!

  6. This looks great! If you didn’t like Chang’s OS very much, i recommend you try Keller’s version.

    Thomas Keller has a great mussel recipe in his bouchon book… and he serves them with french fries! (but its always great with bread). you should try it out sometime. his stock calls for white wine, butter, garlic confit, shallots, thyme, dijon mustard, and saffron (and maybe more, i cant recall right now)

    the first time i had mussels at bouchon was eye opening — the mussels were soft, juicy, and plump, unlike most other places where they sell mussels that are severely overcooked, dried out, gritty, and plain nasty. he gets them to be that way by taking them out of the pan not more than a few seconds after they open.

    Mmm…moules frites (mussels and fries) is a classic, delicious combination. I’ll give Keller’s recipe a try!

    steph on March 13th, 2010 at 10:16 am
  7. Hi :D
    i made this today and it turned out deeeee-licious. I broiled my bread though for about 2 mins…drizzled some o oil and sprinkled w/dried oregano and rubbed fresh garlic on it. perfect for souping up the wonderful broth. thanks for posting and sharing. loved it. def a keeper!

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