This is my first time cooking with live ingredients. Back in my fish butcher days after school, I cleaned soft shell crabs– which were alive before the cleaning–and I’ve watched lobsters boil. I’ve even gone fishing and eaten the bounty, but this is my actual first experience with live ingredients from start to finish and it was really kind of cool. While I felt a little bad because all life is precious, it was less intense because mussels don’t seem as sentient as other animals. Cooking them really affirmed the cycle of life in a strange way and forced me to own my dietary choices. It also was one of the freshest meals I’ve ever had from start to finish.
Inspired by my mother, who had made this the night before and raved about it today, I picked up the mussels from the a local fish store and went to the wine store to ask the owner what he would recommend to cook these in. This man is from Peru and knows his pairings. He had given me tips for ceviche as well. He looked into my bag and saw the mussels in a bag of ice and sent me home with a classic French wine often used to cook shellfish, Chateau de la Chesnaie, which works well because it’s crisp and dry and very reasonably priced. Honestly, I think you can use any dry white wine here, but these mussels came out so delicious, I want to remember exactly what I used.
The smell of the boiling wine, smoked paprika, oil, garlic and fresh mussels filled the apartment with the essence of Spain and really transported me back to my favorite place in the world. For me, this was a definite list topper out of all the things I’ve made so far.
I served these with freshly made fiocchi pasta stuffed with four cheeses and pear and with fresh squash from my friend’s garden, the sweetest squash I’ve ever had in my life. This one is a keeper.
Adapted from Martha Stewart‘s recipe for Spicy Mussels and Chorizo
- 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
- 4 ounces dried, hot chorizo, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt teaspoon coarse salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded, kept on ice until use
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
Heat oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and paprika; cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add wine; bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and chorizo. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add mussels. Cover, and continue to cook for another 20 minutes or so, shaking or stirring pot occasionally. Add cilantro for garnish and serve.