'This is a dish engraved in my memory as one of the best mussels I have eaten in my life," says Pablo. 'It was in a place called Port de la Selva in the province of Girona during a holiday with my parents. The fact that the mussels were wild ones from the rocky coastline of the Costa Brava and not rope-cultivated, made them extraordinary. It really is a simple dish that is perfect as a light first course with some Spanish cider."
- 1 kg black mussels*, scrubbed
- 125 ml (½ cup) white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 leek, white part only, roughly chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 8 thyme sprigs
- chervil sprigs, to serve
- 80 ml cider vinegar
- 200 ml extra virgin olive oil
- ½ red capsicum, finely chopped
- ½ green capsicum, finely chopped
- 1 small bulb spring onion, finely chopped
- ½ small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make vinaigrette, whisk vinegar and oil in a bowl until emulsified. Stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside until needed.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes or until warm. Add mussels, wine, bay leaf, celery, onion, leek, garlic and thyme. Cover and cook, shaking pan occasionally, for 6 minutes or until mussels have opened. Transfer to a colander to strain. Discard aromatics and set mussels aside until cool enough to handle.
Open each mussel, remove and discard empty shell and remove beards from mussel meat. Gently dislodge mussel meat, then replace in shell. Arrange mussels on a platter, drizzle with vinaigrette and serve scattered with chervil.
* Pot-ready black mussels, available from fishmongers, may be substituted – they have been cleaned and bearded, so no further preparation is needed.
DRINK 2010 Ulacia Getariako Txakolina
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 10, pg90.
Photography by John Reyment.