For years, I’ve made a simple fritter recipe using mussels that everybody raved about. But when the dietary needs of our family changed, and we had to start a gluten-free lifestyle, it seemed that fritters would have to be taken off the menu. I had nothing to lose by trying GF alternatives, and I was shocked at how delicious they were: crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.
Here in Rhode Island, fresh mussels are everywhere. But if you live in an area where they’re not easily found, frozen mussel meats are sometimes available in better seafood stores. Just make sure they come from the USA…I saw one package that had farm-grown Chilean mussels that were packed in Thailand. That’s about as nasty as it gets.
My original recipe calls for fritter flour, which you can usually find in any supermarket. If you’re using that, you can skip the baking powder. I added the baking powder to give a little lightness to the dough. My favorite beer for this recipe is Sam Adams Boston Lager, but again, I had to go gluten-free.
If you don’t have to worry about gluten, just use the regular versions of the ingredients.
1 cup water
1 lb. fresh mussels
1 cup gluten-free flour (I use Cup4Cup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup gluten-free beer
oil, for frying (I use a combination of avocado and olive oils)
sea salt (I like Fleur de Sel)
Place the cup of water in a large pot and add a steamer basket. Pour in the mussels, turn the heat on high, and place a lid on top. Steam the mussels just until they open. Throw away any mussels that don’t open.
Remove the meats from the shells and chop them into very small pieces. Reserve about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the steam water, which now has some mussel flavor. Try to avoid any grit. Let the mussels and broth cool a bit until they’re warm.
In a large bowl, add the flour, the baking powder, the mussels and the broth. Add the beer little by little as you stir gently. As soon as the dough is sticky and mixed, stop! Don’t over-mix. Let it rest about 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a pan to 340. Working in small batches, drop 2″ blobs of dough into the oil, turning once when they are golden. Remove them from the oil when they’re done, placing them on paper towels, and sprinkling them immediately with salt.
You can enjoy them as is, or you can make a quick dipping sauce using mayonnaise and Ponzu sauce. I haven’t found a gluten-free Ponzu yet, so I combine mayo with GF soy sauce, and a squeeze of lemon juice.