16 Aug2009

Baked Mussels…

by Marketman


When the crew gets back from their weekly marketing at Guadalupe market, there is almost ALWAYS a seafood meal for their lunch that day. They often bring back fresh fish for kinilaw or paksiw, lato or other seaweed for a refreshing salad, or other bounty from the sea. A few days ago, the cook came home with a kilo or so of small mussels or tahong. I asked how they planned to cook it and it sounded like they were going to make a soup but I wondered if they might like it baked instead. Our cook had never baked these before, so I figured it was a chance to instruct as well as enjoy a new dish. When I make this, as I have posted before, I use parmesan, breadcrumbs, sometimes bacon or pancetta, see posts here and here. But this time around, I wanted to see how inventive we could get with whatever we found in the fridge, freezer or cupboards…


A few days before, I had asked the cook to use up a half ball of Quezo de bola that was in the deep freeze, so she grated it, added it to roughly 1 cup of butter and now we had sandwich spread that is put on toast or pan de sal then put under a broiler to melt and crisp up. We took that out of the fridge to thaw a bit. Then I rummaged through the fridge and found a bottle of homemade chili pickles, made from chilies I brought back from Bacolod. Then we found some homemade breadcrumbs in the cupboards. So this is the recipe for baked mussels with odds and ends… don’t laugh, they turned out BRILLIANTLY.


First, the mussels were steamed open in some very hot water with a touch of ginger and green onions to remove any off and langsa (off-smells or tastes), they said. Yikes, I am a bit paranoid about local shellfish given my explosive experience with clams a few years ago, here, so I was worried that they even continued with a recipe if the shellfish didn’t smell totally right. Then the half cooked mussels were put on a pan on their half shells. We topped the mussels with a mixture of butter, quezo de bola and breadcrumbs, and about a third of the mussels were topped with chopped chili pickles and put into a hot oven to broil. Once the cheese had melted and browned a bit they were removed and ready to eat. I had one mussel just to taste if it was good and they were REALLY good. The crew ate every single one of the baked mussels and nobody got a bum stomach… But I am still wary of shellfish from nearby polluted waters… If you want to do this but are fearful of local mussels, you can always try it with those imported green lipped New Zealand mussels that arrive here frozen. They are a bit tough, but I gather come from some of the cleanest waters in the world.



  1. traci says:

    good on you MM! i love baked mussels, but i agree — i am a wee bit paranoid on the provenance of most of the mussels in the local market..
    i just read recently that mussels are one of the cheapest, most eco-friendly meals in the world.. of course it depends on whether these were sustainably grown and harvested!

    Aug 16, 2009 | 10:51 am


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  3. Ging says:

    I can eat a kilo of these on my own. Yum!

    Mixing the grated cheese into the butter is a great idea. Will try it as well.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 11:40 am

  4. jun b says:

    one thing with our local mussel if it is fresh it is so flavourful even thou they are small. baked them in its own juice with a bit of garlic is good enough.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 11:47 am

  5. Connie C says:

    Living in Long Island in the mid 70’s, we used to go to the northern shores on early mornings to gather mussels by the buckets. We would walk on the shores literally covered with mussels and visible as far as the eyes could see. We did not worry about pollution then. These days we buy them grown in farm cultures , from New England, I think.

    I have also tried the New Zealand mussels but somehow they do not agree with my stomach.
    A quick way to prepare them is to place them in a microwave proof dish with some white wine, nuke them on high while covered for a few minutes. Take them out of the shells when cool enough to handle and prepare with julienned cucumber. Season with fresh lime juice, patis and some sugar. A touch of tabasco or chili slices give it some kick. Try it for a low calorie salad, just know where you source them.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 11:48 am

  6. isagarch says:

    I just had baked NZ mussels last night with a dab of butter, garlic and lots of cheese, half of them we added a small spot of mustard as well. They were tasty but I rather missed the smaller mussels we eat in Manila, the NZ mussels were so large and yes a little tough as well.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 1:09 pm

  7. Homebuddy says:

    I remember ordering baked mussels when we were in Venice a few years back, they were tasteless,dry and very pricey! I’d rather have Phil. mussels anytime they’re juicy, tasteful and very cheap…..hehehe!

    Aug 16, 2009 | 2:06 pm

  8. Fredo says:

    this is a tasty treat, especially when you have friends over for a drinking session. I usually put loads of minced garlic on my version, then the cheese and some worcestershire sauce. then a spicy vinegar dip on the side.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 2:22 pm

  9. Gener says:

    New menu? sure i will try this too! simple preparation and its easy….

    Aug 16, 2009 | 2:53 pm

  10. Gay says:

    I’m always wary of mussels period. Even if here in Gensan there is no reported outbreak of redtide. I guess my class in college (I took up BS Bio) on invertebrates made me think twice about eating them. Imagine dissecting tahong, and then discussing how red tide organisms proliferate… yay! But maybe I’ll try this dish as I do get a hankering for mussels now and then.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 3:21 pm

  11. ntgerald says:

    I am afraid to eat local mussels. Mussels are filter feeders. They get everything because of that, including microorganisms. Like Vibrio cholerae, Salmonella typhi, Yersinia, etc etc…

    Admittedly, people along the entire Manila Bay coast should be having cholera and other infectious diseases regularly, if that were true.

    However the greater fear on my part is due to the fact that everything in Laguna lake drains into the Pasig River, which empties into Manila Bay. Laguna de Bay is surrounded by the factories of Rizal and Laguna. All dioxin, arsenic, lead, etc etc accumulates in this drainage system. Who knows that havoc these toxic substances can wreck in one’s body?

    Aug 16, 2009 | 4:37 pm

  12. Helen says:

    I like the mussels in the UK. The shells are black in color and they are small and juicy.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 5:38 pm

  13. Helen says:

    Especially cooked in white wine!!

    Aug 16, 2009 | 5:39 pm

  14. Gener says:

    MUSSELS in UK? They are good but good price too! at 6pounds per kg is expensive…philippine mussels are good too but the source is uncertain,,you have to ask where it come from but that does not help much! a seller sometimes can lie…

    Aug 16, 2009 | 6:13 pm

  15. shalimar says:

    had bakes mussels last night with herbs and butter, so delish to dunk the bread as well.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 8:41 pm

  16. spryte says:

    YUM! These look delicious!

    Aug 16, 2009 | 8:45 pm

  17. Tyrone | Millionaire Acts says:

    These looks very yummy!! Mussels are one of my favorite seafood especially if they put some cheese on it and it’s inihaw.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 9:42 pm

  18. Divina says:

    We usually do this whenever we have family dinners at home. It’s my nephews favorite so mom would ask me to make this every month for him. I usually to it with tomatoes, breadcrumbs and cheese but the those with chili pickles sounds really tempting. Thanks for sharing that.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 9:45 pm

  19. millen says:

    i want to try your recipe at home but where can we buy the good clean local mussels ? Anybody out there who knows a good source? Appreciate if you can let me know.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 9:59 pm

  20. Ejit says:

    how i miss baked mussels… i just dont understand why there are no fresh mussels and shrimps in the caribbean… anybody can answer that? there are fresh lobsters, hine, barracuda, yellow fin, blue marlin but only frozen shrimps which comes from the US… how sad

    Aug 16, 2009 | 10:11 pm

  21. joyce says:

    love this in soup as well. just with garlic, fish sauce, and ginger.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 10:13 pm

  22. Adam says:

    Hi MM

    Loved this post almost as much as I love eating mussels!

    I think that I have asked this before but can you or any of the readers here actually recommend a safe source of shellfish – particularly oysters and mussles – in Manila? No problem finding great shellfish on Panay, Negros and other islands but seems to be murderously (quite literally) difficult here in Manila. We have several bad experiences to date and are lucky to still be intact!

    Aug 16, 2009 | 10:48 pm

  23. Marketman says:

    Adam and millen et al, it seems that some folks do fly in shellfish from the South, like Panay and Negros. I don’t have any suppliers for this, but I do eat the oysters at Myron’s (I have met the owner and he assures me they are flown in from cleaner waters in the South) and have not had a problem so far. As for mussels, I rarely or almost NEVER eat them in Manila unless they are imported or I am assured they are brought from cleaner waters. If anyone out there has information on retailers that bring in shellfish, please leave a comment here, sounds like a lot of potential customers on this thread.

    Aug 16, 2009 | 11:02 pm

  24. Jade186 says:

    I share the same fears with some of the readers above regarding eating mussels in Manila. I had a terrible experience once last year at Pizza Hut Glorietta when I ordered their seafood pasta with mussels. It was a late dinner, and when we arrived home (I dined with my partner who, unlike me, had pizza) I was feeling nauseous, sick in my stomach and eventually threw up. I do believe that the cause of this malaise were the mussels, after ruling out other probable factors. So please beware – even known popular restos like Pizza Hut cannot guarantee their food quality at the minimum.

    Aug 17, 2009 | 5:14 am

  25. denise says:

    hmmm…i miss my dad’s weekly tahong and other shellfish combo (i think it’s from batangas) which he usually gets from his “suki” at the Marikina Wet Market…i bet he misses it too, as he is in KSA right now.

    basically fresh shellfish is non-existent here in dubai:( the ones my aunts do find at the fish markets are quite small and have been frozen for hours

    Aug 17, 2009 | 6:07 am

  26. quiapo says:

    New Zealand mussels aren’t tough if you dont over cook them. I add them towards the end of cooking in Paella. They are also nice with white wine, garlic and onions, and a bit of parsley.

    Aug 17, 2009 | 8:00 am

  27. Bubut says:

    MM, we always do our marketing at Guadalupe Market and we havent experience or i havent heard any news about problem with the mussels, though we really have to be very careful as were now in rainy season and these tahong might have red tide.

    Aug 17, 2009 | 12:02 pm

  28. steph says:

    ahh i must try this soon!! nz mussels are ginormous and really yummy!

    Aug 17, 2009 | 12:38 pm

  29. smiles4angels says:

    yum yum… love baked mussels…

    Aug 17, 2009 | 8:51 pm

  30. botchok says:

    I’ve tried diff. kinds off mussels including those frozen NZ variety but i’d say the ones we eat from Pinas is much sweeter, at least for me.Also, the grated Quezo de bola in butter reminds me of my late lola. That’s what we used to have with our pan de sal during my childhood days, specially after the Christmas season as we usually have a few quezo de bola in the fridge given by family friends. The good old days!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 1:54 am

  31. ted says:

    I used to buy the frozen NZ grown mussels, until Costco here in my area started selling those small black mussels fresh from Rhode Island. I would steaming them with my sofrito concoction of Olive oil, Garlic, shallots, freshly chopped unseeded Roma Tomatoes, white wine and some chicken broth and cracked black pepper, topping it off with chopped Sweet Basil after steaming for 5min. Serve with sliced french baguettes, it beats what “Tomatina” is serving at a quarter of the cost.

    Aug 18, 2009 | 3:20 am

  32. betty q. says:

    Hey Ted: try adding linguini to your sofrito tahong If too saucy, add a pinch of breadcrumbs and chopped parsley with the basil chiffonade. This is what we had for supper only, I added clams instead of mussels and barbecued scallopsand prawns.

    Aug 18, 2009 | 11:35 am

  33. THELMA says:

    there is a japanese restaurant where we often go to. baked clams are one of the cooked items that they serve at the buffet…

    Aug 18, 2009 | 1:18 pm

  34. Susan D. says:

    I have a recipe similar to yours except no breadcrumbs, but lots of crushed browned garlic, a little mayo/butter, and cayenne pepper sprinkled before the parmesan cheese. Everyone loves it…can never make enough of these when served for a dinner, it’s gobbled up!!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 3:53 pm

  35. ted says:

    @Betty Q., i will surely try adding linguini next time. They also offer Manila clams at Costco, but my siblings says they are too sandy, siguro kailangan ko muna pasukahin yung mga clams bago iluto?

    Aug 19, 2009 | 3:41 am

  36. bagito says:

    Susan D, your recipe is similar to my great aunt’s except for the mayo. She uses butter, browned garlic and quickmelt cheese. So simple yet it’s so good, I truly miss it (and my great aunt, too–she’s still alive thank God but we’re continents apart). (sniff, sniff)

    Aug 19, 2009 | 11:48 am

  37. teny says:

    I tried it from a friend several years back but they boiled beer to open the tahong instead of just water. I just love this bar chow, Im just worried about how clean and safe it is when i eat out.

    Aug 20, 2009 | 7:48 am


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