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Black mussels with fennel salt

Time 20 minutes
Yields Serves 1 to 2
Black mussels with fennel salt
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Mussels

1

Place the garlic and the shallot in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium heat and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the shallot has just become translucent, about 2 minutes. Swirl the pan so the garlic moves and does not burn. Add the mussels. Turn the heat to high and coat the mussels in the oil, shallot and garlic. Add a dash of salt and pepper, then the wine. Cover and simmer until the mussels have opened wide, no more than 2 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels.

2

Arrange the mussels in a bowl and return the cooking liquid to the heat. Add the ong choy and the butter. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. The ong choy cooks down very quickly; you want this to remain brothy. Pour the liquid on top of the mussels and arrange the ong choy in a bundle on top. Serve while hot with the fennel salt (see related recipe) for sprinkling.

Fennel salt

1

Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush the salt, fennel seeds and zest together until lightly combined. (Makes a little less than a half cup.)

This fennel salt is delicious. Try it also with grilled foods or vegetables or just set it on the table as a seasoning. Fleur de sel is a French sea salt available at specialty markets and well-stocked supermarkets. Ong choy is a long-stemmed leafy green available at Asian markets.

S. Irene Virbila is a former restaurant critic and wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times. She left in 2015.
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