Some people worry about getting food poisoning from mussels, but there are 3 foolproof methods of ensuring you don’t eat ‘bad’ mussels. If any of your mussels are open when you get them home, tap the shell with the handle of a knife. If the shell closes, the mussel is alive and therefore safe to eat. Bin any that don’t close. When you wash the mussels, discard any that bob around on the surface of the water. Finally, any mussels which don’t open after about 5 minutes should also be discarded.
A word about cebolletas, which are mentioned in the recipe. Cebolletas are like English spring onions, but with enormous bulbs. They are not so strongly flavoured as ordinary onions, and you can use the tender green shoots as well. If you can’t get cebolletas, shallots will do nicely. Buen Provecho!
Ingredients (for 2 people as a light lunch or 4 as starters)
- 1 kg mussels
- 1 glass white wine
- 1 chilli pepper, chopped. (or 2 if you prefer the sauce really spicy)
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 2 cebolletas or shallots, finely chopped
- 500g large ripe tomatoes, grated
- Freshly milled black pepper (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of freeze dried parsley
- Extra virgin olive oil
Wash mussels well in plenty of cold water and scrub the shells to remove debris. Pull out ‘beards.’
Heat wine in a large lidded pan, then cook mussels until most of them are open (5 minutes aproximately). Be careful not to overcook, and discard any mussels which fail to open.
Remove mussels with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain liquid through a kitchen towel in a strainer to remove any bits of sand or grit. Return liquid to pan and boil until reduced by half.
Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add cebollettas or shallots, garlic and chilli peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Now add the mussel liquid and grated tomatoes and heat thoroughly. Allow to stand for a few minutes to allow flavours to blend. Taste and season with pepper if necessary.
Remove the empty half of the shell from each mussel, then stir them into the sauce until coated. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with fresh crusty bread.