Fennel is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean so it’s perhaps not surprising that it tastes incredible with fish. It doesn’t grow well in hot weather so Mark Carpenter of Coastal Farms grows his fennel crops during the cooler times of the year. He harvests once at the end of summer, once during the fall and once in the spring.
It’s not often you find a dish that pairs blue cheese with seafood, but chef Brian Sheard found a way. The earthiness of the blue cheese and the vibrance of the fennel rounds out the “ocean” flavor of the mussels. Find his recipe below.
Chef Brian Sheard’s steamed mussels with fennel in a Point Reyes blue cheese-white wine sauce
Chef Brian Sheard serves his steamed mussels along with grilled crostini.
Yield: Makes 1 serving
1 lb mussels
½ cup fennel bulb, shaved with fronds reserved
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
2 oz white wine
2 tbsps butter
2 oz Point Reyes blue cheese
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
2 grilled crostini
Prepare the mussels: Scrub the mussels under cold water using a brush to clean them, making sure to remove their byssi (the beards). Be sure to discard any that have open or cracked shells.
Next, shave the fennel to ⅞-inch thickness. Mince the garlic and chop both the parsley and the basil.
Clean the mussels, rinse them under cold water, and make sure they are still alive. After cleaning them, discard any mussels that are open. Shave the fennel to an ⅞ inch thick. Mince the garlic, chop the parsley and basil.
Cook the mussels: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic and sauté just until aromatic. Then, add the cleaned mussels and fennel and sauté for 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan using white wine and cover for another 2 minutes. Once done, uncover and check to see that all the mussels have opened, discarding any that remain closed.
Finally, add the butter, blue cheese and fresh herbs. Sauté for another minute until both the butter and blue cheese have melted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
To serve: Transfer the mussels and fennel to a large bowl and garnish with extra cheese, fennel fronds and the grilled crostini.