If there is one thing I like as much as I like to travel, it would have to be great food. Combine the two and you have yourself a trip of epic proportions! One of my favorite things to eat is seafood. Fish, shrimp, scallops, clams, oysters, mussels, you name it. They can be raw, baked, fried, or steamed. I’m a very adventurous eater. Anything, except olives I always say.
I contribute this to growing up in the middle of the Puget Sound in a place called Whidbey Island. Whidbey Island is a small island in the north western part of Washington state. It’s home to a variety of things, including a naval air station, NAS Whidbey. Whidbey Island is also home to one of the largest producers of shellfish in the world called Penn Cove. Every year in March, the island celebrates by holding the Penn Cove Musselfest!
The festival is a tribute to all the bounty of the sea, especially the mussel, which it’s famous for. Almost every dish of mussels you get in United States is a Penn Cove mussel. There is plenty to do and eat. Everything from shellfish themed games, to chowder tasting and bowls of deliciously steamed mussels. If you can’t make it, don’t worry. I have the secret recipe so you can enjoy from home!
Penn Cove Mussels
- Peppers- 1/4 cup each, red and orange diced
- Medium onion-1/2 cup diced
- Shallots-1/2 cup chopped
- Zucchini-1/2 cup diced
- Carrots-1 finely diced
- Fennel-2 cups chopped
- Chives- handful chopped
- Parsley- handful chopped
- Curry Powder- 2 tbsp
- Oregano-1 teaspoon
- Tarragon- handful finely chopped
- Lemon- juice of 1 lemon plus 2 tablespoons of zest
- White wine-1/4 bottle
- Cream- 2 cups
- Salt, pepper to taste
- Olive oil-2 tablespoons
- Butter- 1 tablespoon
- 8 lbs of mussels
Rinse mussels well them soak them in salt water for about half an hour, if any are already open or broken you must NOT use them.
Saute the vegetables (peppers, onion, shallots, zucchini, carrots, fennel) in olive oil and butter until tender, 3 minutes. Add the herbs, (chives, parsley, oregano, tarragon)curry powder, and grated lemon zest and about a quarter of a bottle of white wine. Save 1/2 of the parsley for garnish at the end. Continue to simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes and add sea salt and pepper to taste. I also squeeze in half of the lemon juice at this point. You should now have a flavorful broth; I usually add more wine at this point depending on how many pounds of mussels you have. Bring the heat up under the broth and toss in the mussels. Put a lid on the pot and cook briskly until they are all open 5-10 minutes. When they are ready lower heat to simmer and add the cream, grated lemon zest, remaining lemon juice, and the other half of the parsley.
Serve in pasta bowls with a crusty baguette to dip in the broth. You can also use fish stock in substitution of the wine. Also, for a spicy flavor, add 2 1/2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper when adding the herbs. Be careful, some of the mussels won’t open after cooking and you must discard them.
This recipe will feed 5-6 people depending on what size mussels you are able to get.
If you’re able to make it to Musselfest, below are a few helpful tips.
1. Musselfest is held in the downtown are of Coupville. You can get directions by clicking here. Parking is $3, but there are many free parking spots with shuttle service in the area. Follow the applicable signs.
2. You can find out more info on Musselfest by clicking here. You can even take tours of the mussel farms.
3. Whidbey Island is full of things to do and sights to see. You can find a whole list of events and attractions by clicking here.
4. Bring a jacket. It can be a little chilly in March, so dress in layers. Bring a camera, have fun and enjoy some awesome seafood!
As always, please comment below and let me know what you think! You can also follow us on Facebook.