Fishwife or fishmonger, it’s a pretty fun job (Spicy Mussels)

I can add fishwife or fishmonger to my resume. Fishwife being the female term for a fishmonger. It was a total surprise to get to do this and a lot of fun. I really enjoyed and I am looking forward to doing it again soon. I showed up for my shift nervous but excited.  The young lady training me was sweet as could be and we had a great time as holiday music blared in the background and we weighed and wrapped up the orders for customers.  The only odd thing was taking temperatures of our wares. I mean, I found myself apologizing to a clam for trying to take its tempeture.

I think the most fun was all the wonderful people who came up and asked questions and were looking to try something new. I was pretty shocked how fast recipes popped out of my brain when people asked.

With this being a good time to get deals on seafood, I thought I’d share just a few tips on buying before I share one of my favorite mussels recipes that my boys and I changed from a Malto Mario recipe we found on a Food Day site over a year ago.

Shrimp, unless your going home and cooking it the same day, it’s ok to buy frozen. Why? All shrimp is frozen on the boat to keep it fresh. So unless your going to the docks, or know your fishmonger/fishwife got it that day from the docks, just assume it was frozen already.

When buying fish, you want to look for a few things.  On whole fish, look at the eyes, they should be clear and bright. The skin should be bright, shiny and clean. The gills should be a beautiful red. If anything is dull or discolored or the gills are like faded bricks move on. Oh and smell, if the fish smells fishy or anything nasty, skip it.  On a fillet the color should be bright and clean and the skin, if on it, should be bright as well. Again, if there is a smell skip it. Also, if there is any liquid, it should be clear. If it’s milky, again,  skip it.

Clams and Mussels you want to buy from a place that does high volume. If they are coming in bags,  Look at the tag and when they were harvested.  Make sure to get ones that are closed and not cracked and broken. If any are open, touch or pinch closed and if they close up and stay that way they are good. If they don’t they are dead. Also any that don’t open after cooking are dead and just toss them.

So below is one of the many ways I love to eat mussels. I changed it up to make it a meal, as the original recipe was a starter. Also my boys, who cooked this once with just me hanging out in the kitchen for support, changed this up to suit our tastes and removed a few steps that seemed silly to us and made no difference than when we did it the original way.  That’s the fun part of cooking, taking a recipe and making it our own.  Give this one a try,  then put your own spin on it.


Mussels with Spicy Peppers

serves 8

    • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 6 bell peppers, (3 green, 3 red) diced
    • 1  serrano chile, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 4 pounds PEI* or other small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
    • 1  28 oz can diced tomatoes, simmered until reduced by half
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


1. In a large shallow pan, heat oil and add garlic and cook, over med heat until fragrant, but do not allow to brown.  Add the bell peppers  and serrano and cook until they soften but are not mush, about 10 mins.

2. Add the wine, and use it to clean up anything that might have stuck to the bottom of the pan, add tomatoes and bring to a low boil.

3. Add mussels, cover and steam until all the mussels open. About 4 mins or so.

4. Taste sauce and season with salt as needed. Serve in large spoonfuls into warmed bowls with lots of crusty bread.



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