"Man, you go through a lot of bacon!" Significant Eater exclaimed the other day as she watched me simmering half a pound of the good stuff to make the recipe for Bacon Dashi from Momofuku.
"Don't worry, it's just a broth that contains the essence of bacon," I reassured her. "I skim off all the bacon fat at the end, so it's actually not that bad for you. Kind of like the idea behind Snackwells, but with much better flavor."
"Hmm, well that's a ton of bacon you have simmering. Skim it well."
With the most persuasive tone I could muster, I said, "Don't worry. And we're having mussels with it. See? Healthy!"
"Wait... what's that?" She said skeptically.
"Just a little crispy bacon to top off the dish," I calmly answered.
She shrieked, "What! More bacon?"
"Oh yeah...sorry. But trust me, it'll be worth it."
Tasting a mussel with a spoonful of broth, she said, "Wow...that's amazing."
"Bacon just makes everything better, doesn't it?"
Bacon Dashi with Mussels and Potatoes
Adapted from a recipe for Bacon Dashi with Clams and Potatoes from Momofuku
For the Bacon Dashi:
- 2 sheets konbu (dried kelp, available at Japanese markets)
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 lb smoky bacon
- 1 lb small fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
- 2 lbs mussels, thoroughly scrubbed and debearded
- 1/4 lb bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- soy sauce, to taste
- mirin, to taste
- 1/4 cups scallion greens, thinly sliced
- Rinse the kelp under cold running water.
- Place the kelp in a large pot with the water and bring it to a simmer. Turn off the heat, and let the kelp steep for 10 minutes.
- Remove the kelp from the pot and add the bacon. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bacon and discard it.
- Let the dashi come to room temparature, then chill it in the refrigerator. Once the dashi is chilled, spoon off the layer of solidified fat that will have risen to the top of the liquid. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it is crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on it paper towels.
- Bring the dashi to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Place the potatoes in the dashi and simmer them until they are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and reserve.
- Bring the dashi to a boil and add the mussels. Cover the pot and cook until nearly all of the mussels are open, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, and discard any mussels that do not open.
- Add the potatoes to the dashi to heat them through. Taste the dashi for seasoning. If it needs salt, add a splash of soy sauce. If it needs sweetness, add a splash of mirin.
- Ladle the dashi into large bowls. Place a few mussels and potatoes in each bowl and top each dish with the bacon and scallions. Serve immediately.