My cousin Rosa taught me this recipe when I was staying with her in Córdoba a few years ago. She is my father’s sister’s daughter, lives a stone’s throw from the Guadalquivir River, and is not just a good cook but also a generous teacher. As we cooked, we talked about our shared love of molluscs and our different ways of cooking mussels. We both agreed that large and heavy mussels were good but there is something lovely about the small sweet ones. This dish is a simple mix of salty seafood and earthy vegetables, enriched with alioli and sharpened with a little white wine.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the leeks for 10–15 minutes until soft. Set aside.
Scrub the mussels and pull out the hairy beards. Rinse well and drain. Discard any broken mussels, or open ones that don’t close when tapped on the bench.
Put the mussels in a large saucepan over high heat with the wine and fish stock and shake the pan around a little to combine well. Cover, allow the liquid to come to the boil then cook for a few more minutes, frequently shaking the pan. Remove from the heat. Remove the open mussels and put in a bowl. Cover and cook for a further minute or so, in case any more mussels open. Discard any unopened mussels. Leave the cooking juices in the pan.
Remove the mussels from their shells and put in a bowl. Any juices left in the shell should also be added to the bowl. Carefully tip off all the accumulated mussel juices from the bowl into the pan. Cover the mussels with foil to keep warm. Discard the shells. Return the pan to high heat and add the potato and leek. Once the mixture starts to boil remove from the heat, allow to cool for 5 minutes then stir in the alioli. If the liquid is too hot the mayonnaise will separate and become oily.
Crush the potato and leek mixture with a potato masher until it is finely broken up but the potato still has a little texture. Season with a little fine sea salt, if necessary.
Arrange the mussels in a warmed serving dish and pour the soup over. Serve warm.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.