Miso-butter mussels

Like everyone else, lately I’ve been reading the first issue of Lucky Peach, the new quarterly food magazine put out by David Chang and Peter Meehan, and it reminded me of the incredible flavour combination that is miso and butter. I find it so amazing that these two staple ingredients from two wildly different culinary traditions could get along just like Calvin and Hobbes.

Mussels are one of my favourite types of seafood, partly because they can act as a blank canvas for any number of ingredient permutations, whether rooted in a specific cuisine or allowing for free-wheeling fusion. So they seemed like a good application for miso butter.

On its own, miso can be a hard ingredient to disperse in broth unless you have a miso-koshi, but the butter seems to make it easier to simply whisk it in, in much the same way that it helps you disperse flour more easily in a beurre manié.

How to make miso-butter mussels
For the miso butter
Miso of your choice (I like white miso in this preparation)
Butter, softened

For the mussels
2 lbs. mussels, cleaned
1 cup dashi
2 tsp. regular Japanese soy sauce
0.5 tsp. light-coloured (“usukuchi”) Japanese soy sauce (optional)
2.5 tsp. mirin
2 Tbsp. miso butter
Sliced green onions

  • Make the miso butter by combining roughly equal parts of miso and butter, mixing well.
  • Combine dashi, soy sauces and mirin in a pot large enough to hold the mussels comfortably. Bring to a boil, then add the mussels. Cover the pot, and continue to boil until the mussels have opened, up to 10 minutes, shaking occasionally.
  • Remove the mussels to a bowl, discarding any that haven’t opened. Strain the cooking broth through a fine mesh strainer to remove any grit, rinse the pot, then return the broth to the pot over medium heat. Whisk in the miso butter, but do not boil. Return the mussels to the pot to warm through quickly, then divide the mussels and broth between two bowls. Serve, garnished with sliced green onions. If you like, do what I did and serve them with Robuchon-method fries dusted with some shichimi togarashi.
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