The Little Mermaid's Mussels with Bacon and Seaweed

Lizzy Saxe

When the Little Mermaid falls in love with the human prince, she has a very difficult choice to make.

Does she stay with her family and the world she’s always known in the sea? Or does she delve into the unknown with the help of the nefarious Sea Witch and make her way to land?

This dish represents her dilemma with three important symbols. It has mussels - which cling to sea-rocks as they grow - for her connection to the ocean. The bacon is there to remind us of her longing for adventure and love on the land. And the seaweed is an unknown element, the Sea Witch, who could help her find happiness or dash her dreams in the waves.


  • 1 lb fresh mussels
  • 1 two-inch piece kombu
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 strips thick-cut bacon
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cups white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley


Pick through your mussels, making sure to discard any that are open or have visibly cracked shells, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

Then, cut the kombu into 1-inch pieces and place into a saucepan along with the 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes. Note: resist the urge to brush the white powder off of the seaweed, it's where all the flavor is hiding.

While the kombu is simmering, chop your onions and garlic, and then place a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon while the pan is still cold, and fry until crispy. Remove the bacon and transfer to a paper towel to cool.

Add the onions and garlic to the warm bacon fat, and once they appear translucent, add the bay leaf and pepper flakes. Let the aromatics brown for another few minutes until they've begun to caramelize and add the soy sauce, kombu broth (also known as dashi), and white wine to the pot. Taste the mixture, and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Finally, add the mussels and cook for 5 minutes with the lid on.

While the mussels are steaming, chop up some fresh parsley.

And just like that, they're done. Enjoy!

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I write about the past, present, and future of food and the human condition. Also sometimes snacks.

Brooklyn, NY

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