Mejillones en Escabeche

Marinated Mussels

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • 6

    Medias Raciones

Appears in

MoVida Rustica

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2009

  • About

THERE IS A BAR IN THE BACKSTREETS OF SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA RUN BY A ONE-ARMED MAN. THE FIRST TIME I WENT THERE I WAS GREETED WITH THE WELCOMING SMELL OF CALDO GALLEGO, THE GALICIAN VERSION OF COCIDO. I WAS TOLD THE SOUP WOULDN’T BE READY UNTIL THE NEXT DAY, A THURSDAY — THE DAY FARMERS TRADITIONALLY CAME TO TOWN TO SELL THEIR PRODUCE. IT TOOK ME OVER A YEAR TO GET BACK TO SANTIAGO AND AFTER A DAY TRAVELLING THROUGH THE RAIN AND FOG I ARRIVED EARLY ONE THURSDAY EVENING. I WAS AGAIN GREETED BY THE WELCOMING SMELL OF THE SOUP. I ASKED FOR A BOWL. HAVE YOU BOOKED?’ WAS THE REPLY. ‘BECAUSE WE CAN ONLY SERVE YOU IF YOU HAVE MADE A BOOKING.’ I SAT AT THE BAR AND FOUND SOLACE IN THE GREAT PLATE OF MARINATED MUSSELS THEY SERVED AS TAPAS. THEY WERE BIG, MEATY, SWEET AND SITTING IN A WONDERFULLY SHARP AND FRAGRANT SAUCE MADE WITH SPICED WINE AND VINEGAR. WHEN PREPARING THE FOLLOWING RECIPE, USE ONLY THE BEST CHARDONNAY VINEGAR; IF YOU CAN’T FIND THIS, THEN USE A LITTLE LESS OF THE NEXT BEST. THESE MUSSELS ARE PERFECT WITH BEER AND CRUSTY BREAD.

Ingredients

  • 3 kg (6 lb 12 oz) mussels
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) dry white wine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 80 ml ( fl oz/ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 160 ml ( fl oz) best-quality chardonnay vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 6 whole black peppercorns

Method

Scrub the mussels and pull out the hairy beards. Rinse well and drain.

Place the mussels, 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of the wine and the bay leaves in a wide heavy-based saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, for 5 minutes, or just until the mussels begin to open. As soon as the mussels open, remove them from the pan and place in a colander set over a bowl. Allow to cool, then remove the mussels from their shells and reserve the cooking liquid.

To make the escabeche, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion is lightly coloured. Add the vinegar, paprika, peppercorns and the remaining wine, then bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Stir the mussels into the escabeche and pour into a shallow dish. Leave to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled, with crusty bread and beer, or a glass of dry Spanish white wine such as albariño.