Sort the mussels and remove the beard, Peel potatoes, cut into 5mm-thick lengths and submerge in a bowl of cold water. Tip mussels into a sink filled with cold water. Have a bowl of cold water ready. Inspect each mussel, discard any broken ones and those that don’t shut when squeezed closed. Take hold of the beard and pull it away firmly.
Remove barnacles and clean:
Scrape off barnacles using a sharp knife; scrub mussels well using a nailbrush, steel wool or scourer. Drop mussels into the bowl of water. Once cleaned, drain the mussels in a colander. Mix the mayonnaise ingredients until well combined, then refrigerate.
Cook the mussels:
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat; sauté onion and celery until glossy. Add cider and bay leaf, replace lid, turn heat to high and bring to boil. Add mussels, clamp lid on tightly; cook for 3–5 mins (shake pot occasionally) until steam gushes from under the lid. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened, toss with parsley and serve.
Cook the skinny fries:
Drain the chips well and pat dry. Fill one third of a large pot with oil and heat over medium-high heat until a cube of bread dropped in the oil turns golden brown in a couple of seconds. Fry chips in batches until golden. Drain on paper towel, season with salt and serve immediately with the mussels and mayo.
Cleaned mussels can be refrigerated for up to two days (in a colander covered with a damp tea towel) but they are best cooked and eaten fresh.
Before collecting your own mussels, check the press to make sure there is no risk of red tide. Most commercial mussels are farmed, and tested to confirm that they’re free of red tide.
When collecting your own mussels, remember that those picked from the rocks are less likely to be sandy (though they may contain some grit).
Transport the harvested mussels from the beach to your kitchen as quickly as possible – pack them on ice in a closed coolbox for the journey home.
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