We’ve arrived at the soup course of my 2021 holiday menu, and I’m going to be honest, this is my favorite dish. It may seem anti-climatic to serve a scene-stealer as a second course but that’s just how it goes sometimes. It’s not the bisque’s fault it’s flawless. So what kind of bisque are we talking about here? This is a Miso Mussel Parsnip Bisque and it is exactly what it sounds like. This is definitely one of my more descriptive recipe titles. The dish is mussels and parsnips pureed into a creamy bisque finished with heavy cream. The surface of the bisque is accented with sesame oil, black sesame seeds, daikon microgreens, a mussel on a half shell, and yet more cream. And yes, it is as good as it sounds, so let’s get started.
Now, before we get too ahead of ourselves, I feel I have to come clean about one thing. I did not make my own fish stock for this. I know, I usually make everything from scratch but I’m just as holiday stressed as the next person, so I gave myself an out. If there were ever a time to cut a few corners, it’s the Christmas season. And not to make a monument out of my laziness but I do think there is a good lesson here. If you feel like you can’t even, that doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself and your guests of the dish you want to make. Just outsource a piece of the recipe and invest in a quality product.
I picked up my fish stock from the excellent Hooked, and because their stock is such great quality, my bisque was probably better for it. If you’re in the Toronto area, I highly recommend them. If you’re not, try to find a reputable fishmonger near you. They will most likely sell a good quality stock. Don’t be a hero this holiday season, just be you. There’s a lot to make on this menu, so don’t judge yourself too harshly. I’m probably more talking to myself than you at this point. I’m sure you’re a reasonable person who will not beat yourself up for purchasing stock. But I have one question for you: What’s it like?
Okay, with my secret shame unveiled, let’s get to the actual recipe. This recipe starts as any mussel recipe ought to. It starts with a whole whack of shallots. But from there, things diverge. Once the shallots and garlic are happily softened in some hot oil, 2 tablespoons of white miso are introduced followed by 1/2 a cup of sake. This is the mixture we will use to steam the mussels. And while the mussels steam, their juices will mingle with the miso mixture, creating a solid flavor foundation for our bisque.
Once the mussels are done, it’s time to add the stock – storebought or otherwise. To the stock, we’re going to add one pound of coarsely chopped parsnips. These will give the bisque a hit of sweetness and the body we’re looking for. And from there is as simple as simmering the veg until it is velvety soft, reintroducing the mussels, and pureeing the lot. Then simply complete the bisque with a drizzle of cream. It really could not be simpler.
Now, let’s talk about garnishes. I obviously went off with mine but that doesn’t mean you have to. A simple drizzle of cream and a little sesame oil is all you really need. And I suggest these two finishing ingredients specifically because they bring something extra to the final dish. The cream is there for contrast. Let’s face it, this Miso Mussel Parsnip Bisque is overwhelmingly biege, which may be a prudent ceiling color but as far as food goes, it’s not the most exciting.
And the sesame oil is my second pick because it brings huge flavor and a stunning sheen to an otherwise fairly flat soup. The mussel on a half shell is nice and the microgreens and sesame seeds are pleasant to look at but if you’re not styling this for the camera, they’re not must-haves. But of course, I always support people who choose to go ham when it comes to cooking and styling food. So if you’re game, go for it! If there is one crowd I cater to, it’s the overly ambitious home cooks out there.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Miso Mussel Parsnip Bisque. It’s rich, creamy, and divinely decadent. Admittedly it’s a tough act to follow but trust and believe I’ve got something else up my sleeve. I’ll catch you at the salad course next.
Miso Mussel Parsnip Bisque
- Large pot with a steaming basket
- Food processor or immersion blender
- 907g (2 lbs) mussels
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 3 shallots halved and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp white miso
- ½ cup sake
- 4 cups fish stock store bought or homemade
- 454g (1 lb) parsnips peeled and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- sesame oil for drizzling
- daikon microgreens optional
- black sesame seeds for sprinkling, optional
- Rinse the mussels under cold water and leave them to drain. Discard any that are open and refuse to close. To test if the mussel is still alive, tap any open mussels on the side of the sink. They should close in response. If they don’t discard them.907g (2 lbs) mussels
- Pour the oil into a large pot and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and a generous sprinkling of salt. Sauté until just translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.2 tbsp neutral oil, 3 shallots, 2 tbsp white miso, 4 cloves garlic
- Add the miso and stir until the shallots and garlic are coated. Stir in the sake and reduce to a simmer. Place the mussels in a steaming basket and place it over the pot. Cover and let the mussels steam for 7 minutes. Take the steaming basket off of the pot and set it aside.2 tbsp white miso, ½ cup sake, 907g (2 lbs) mussels
- Pour the stock into the pot and add the parsnips. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let cook until the parsnips are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. This should take about 20 minutes.4 cups fish stock, 454g (1 lb) parsnips
- While the parsnips are simmer, remove the mussels from their shells and place them in a bowl. ** Once the parsnips are tender, add the mussels to the soup and turn off the heat. Either transfer the soup to a food processor and carefully blitz the soup in batches *** or puree the soup using an immersion blender.
- Once the soup is smooth, stir in the cream and ladle it into bowls. Garnish with additional cream, sesame oil, daikon microgreens, and black sesame seeds.½ cup heavy cream, sesame oil, daikon microgreens, black sesame seeds