Korean-Inspired Kelp and Mussel Soupa
PREP:30 MIN (plus soaking time) YIELD: Serves 4
1-ounce Dried kelp (kombu) or wakame
2 quarts Cold water, vegetable (or chicken) broth
2 pounds Fresh rope-mussels, rinsed
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp. Soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Sesame oil, to taste
Fish sauce (optional), to taste
3-4 Scallions, thinly sliced
- Wipe kombu with a moist cloth and soak in the cold water (or broth) at least 30 minutes. Coarsely chop the kelp and reserve.
- In a large saucepan, slowly bring the liquid to a very bare simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes but do not allow to boil.
- Add mussels, garlic, soy sauce. Continue to simmer, partially covered.
- Gradually remove mussels as they open and reserve.
- Remove top shells from mussels so they can be presented on the half shell.
- Stir sesame oil and (optional) fish oil, to taste, into the broth. Correct for seasoning.
- Add mussels and pieces of kombu to each bowl and ladle in broth. Sprinkle with scallions.
Japanese miso soup variation:
After the mussels and kelp have been set aside, turn off the heat and add 2 ounces of bonito flakes. Steep for 10 minutes and strain into a clean sauce pot, without pressing on the flakes. Add about ¼ cup of white miso (or a combination of white and red) and stir to dissolve. Heat until barely at a simmer. Do not boil. Add diced extra-firm tofu. Serve with the mussels and kombu, and sprinkle with scallions.
Thai curried soup variation:
After the mussels and kelp have been set aside, use a mortar and pestle to grind 1 tsp. coriander seeds, 1 Tbsp. garlic, 1 Tbsp. shallot, 1 Tbsp. ginger, ¼ tsp. shrimp paste (optional). Bring the soup back up to a simmer and add the curry paste and 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar to the soup, stirring until dissolved. Add one can (about 14 ounces) unsweetened, whole fat coconut milk (optional). When the soup is at a bare simmer, add the mussels and kombu until barely heated through. Correct for seasoning and serve.
Rope mussels are easy to clean and prep because they don’t collect gritty particles. For this reason they don’t need to be purged (soaked), merely rinsed under cold water.