Monday, 11 March 2013

Mejillones en salsa piquante - spicy mussels

I can only imagine how feminine and attractive I must come across in The Gentleman's eyes as I'm devouring mussels: slurping away, with the sauce all over my face (and somewhat inevitably) down my white shirt... Why is it that one always seems to be wearing white in the most inconvenient moments?

Since the mussels in Nerja were somewhat lacklustre, I decided to make some myself. Inspiration came from another Spanish-speaking country Mexico, whose big, bold and clean flavours are very much on trend right now. There are several new wave Mexican restaurants in Helsinki too, and I haven't had the chance to visit any of them yet.

Those very flavours, chilli, garlic, lime and coriander are also typical to another favourite of ours: Thailand. To lend some sweetness to this dish I used a persimmon I found hiding in the fridge, but you can either omit it or substitute it with some honey or sugar for a bit of sweetness. In case you're using crushed tomatos, there's no need to add tomatos into the sauce.

The portion serves 2. Or, it would have served too, but since poor Gentleman is allergic to these plump beauties, this portion only fed one (very greedy girl)...

500 g mussels
4 chillis
(again, adjust to the fieriness of the chillis you use)
3 big garlic cloves
1 small onion, halved and sliced
1/2 tsp ginger
2 limes, zest and juice
1 tbsp tomato paste
350 g tin of pureed tomatos
2 tomatos
1 persimmon
2 handfuls of coriander, chopped
salt, pepper

If using fresh mussels, rinse and clean them. Scrape the outside clean and pull off the beard. If using pre-cooked and frozen ones, let them thaw and just add them into the sauce in the end and heat.

Heat some oil in a pan and add the onion and chilli. Once the onion has softened, add garlic and keep stirring so it won't burn. Then add the zest and juice of the limes, ginger and tomato paste. After a while add the tinned tomato purée, chopped tomatos and persimmon. Let simmer on a moderate heat for about 10 minutes- then fish out the tomato skins. Add half of the coriander and season with salt and pepper. Note, you want to be really careful with the salt (if using any) since the mussels add quite a bit of brininess.

Add the mussels into the sauce and let cook under the lid for 5-7 minutes until done. Throw away the mussels that didn't open. Lift the mussels into the serving dish, pour the sauce over them and finish with the remaining coriander.

Then just slurp away. Happy days!

Either use real cutlery or the shell of the first mussel as makeshift tweezers to pluck out the meaty treats inside the mussel shells.

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