Prep this recipe ahead for a fantastic appetiser then flash under the grill before serving to ensure the crumbs stay crisp.
olive oil for drizzling
1¼ cups fresh breadcrumbs (I used a day-old sourdough loaf, crusts removed)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and roughly ground
½ cup freshly grated pecorino or parmesan
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
pinch chilli flakes
finely grated zest 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and ground pepper
Put the mussels in a large saucepan with a splash of water. Cook over a high heat and remove to a plate as soon as they open. Discard any that don’t open. Strain the cooking juices through a piece of muslin into a bowl and set aside.
When cool, remove the meat from half of the mussels and discard the shells. Open the remaining mussels, keeping the two shells attached at the spine. Check the mussels for any stray crabs etc. Pop another mussel in the empty halfof each shell and place on a baking tray. Spoon a little cooking liquid over each mussel. Cover and refrigerate if not grilling immediately.
Crumbs: Combine the breadcrumbs, fennel seeds, pecorino or parmesan, parsley, chilli flakes, zest and garlic in a bowl. Drizzle over the oil and toss together with your fingertips to moisten everything.
Preheat the grill to its highest setting.
Place a spoonful of crumbs over each mussel then drizzle with a little extra olive oil. Place under the grill for 1–2 minutes until the crumbs are golden. Serve immediately. Makes 14 doubles