Mussels steam in a heady bath of white wine, Pernod, garlic, lemon and red chili. Then they're dipped into a soft aïoli scented with fennel fronds. Serve with lots of baguette to sop up the lovely broth. Try it; you'll love it. —boulangere
Make Your Aïoli
cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons
sea or kosher salt
fruity olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Handful of fennel fronds, minced
Sea or kosher salt to taste
Now Steam Your Mussels
dozen mussels, or more if you're really nuts about them
Whirr together the minced garlic and salt in a food processor. Grab a soup spoon and, with the motor running, add the canola oil a spoonful at a time. Witness the miracle of emulsion begin to take place. When finished, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Keep your motor running and add the lemon juice and zest. Turn this lovely stuff out into a bowl and fold in the minced fennel fronds. Taste, and adjust any seasonings you deem necessary. Set aside for the flavors to blend while you steam your mussels and slice a whole lot of bread.
Bring to a boil in a non-reactive (not aluminum, not copper) pot the Pernod (if you don't want to splurge for the big bottle, buy a couple of the little airline-size ones; alternatively, grab an inexpensive bottle of Anisette - the mussels won't know the difference), white wine, garlic, fennel, and dried red chili pepper of your choice of heat. Add some good sea salt and pepper. When it reaches a healthy rolling boil, add the mussels and cover the pot. Stand right at the stove. Do not check email, do not check voicemail, do not pass Go. Peek into the pot every minute or so. Stir the mussels around now and then. When they have opened, they are done. Get them off the stove and lift them into bowls with tongs. If some of the fennel comes along with them, more's the better. Ladle some of that incredible liquid over them. Pour glasses of something white, and I'm not referring to milk, and light a candle or two. Draw a mussel up out of its warm bath and gently pull it through your aïoli. Dip a slice of baguette into the bath. Drop the mussel onto it. You know the rest.