Mussels are a small nutritional treasure. They are extremely rich in high-quality proteins, vitamin B, Vitamin C and iron. They are fantastic for almost every type of diet and very low in calories.
I have tried them in at least 20 different ways and I liked all of them: steamed, in veggies broth, with white wine, Thai style with coconut milk; with rice, pasta and even French fries… all of them delicious!
They are also present in the Spanish tapas tradition and will be found in almost every bar in varied presentations. Possibly the most popular are the vinaigrette mussels (which I will post soon), the pickled mussels (en escabeche) and the “tiger mussels” or stuffed mussels. The one I am posting today may not be so popular but is definitely one of my favorites: it is very Mediterranean, extremely simple, and it’s my mom’s recipe (once again).
Ingredients (tapas servings: 4)
2 pounds fresh mussels
1 large ripe tomato
½ cup of diced onion
1 garlic clove and peppercorns (optional)
3 cayenne peppers
2 tbsps. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
STEP 1.- Wash the mussels thoroughly with water. Discard any broken shells and remove beards if necessary.
STEP 2.- Place the mussels in a large pot and add about ½ -3/4 cup of water, just enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Shake the pot without uncovering every couple of minutes to redistribute the content, so the heat reaches all the mussels evenly. When the steam starts to build up and the mussels open, they will be ready. Be careful not to overcook, as they will be chewy. Don’t discard the broth, you will need it for the sauce.
STEP 3.- Heat 2 tbsps. EVOO in a deep pan and sauté the onion over medium heat until evenly golden brown. Add the tomato, peeled and diced into small cubes, and the cayenne peppers. DO NOT add salt.
STEP 4.- Sauté for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, until the tomato is soft.
STEP 5.- Pour the broth through a small strainer to remove any small pieces of shell or any other elements. Add the filtered broth to the pan and let simmer for 5 minutes over low heat. Try and add a pinch of salt if needed.
STEP 6.- While the sauce is being cooked, discard the shells that are empty, leaving only the shell that has the mussel attached.
STEP 7.- Add these to the sauce, let simmer for 2 minutes and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.
- Take out the mussels as soon as they open. They will have another 2 minutes to cook in the broth.
- You can add peppercorn and garlic when steaming the mussels to add more flavor.