Living on the coast, we have a plentiful supply of fresh local seafood, year round. I adore summer and autumn when the local Blue Manna Crab and Blue Mussels are abundant! Chili mussels is on constant rotation in our house. It’s so unbelievably easy to make and crazy cheap, our local supply ranges from $4.00 - $8.00 per kilo. You can adjust nearly any recipe based on what you have readily available. And it’s a crowd pleaser!
The only annoyance is cleaning the little buggers, a constant argument in our house. I always buy local and super fresh. I know I can buy pre-cleaned mussels, but they are often frozen and not entirely fresh. Plus it’s more expensive.
Cleaning mussels is pretty easy. Simply fill up your sink with cold water (not too cold, your poor hands!), scrub off any sand, seaweed or other miscellaneous material. Then de-beard the poor little guys (and gals!). I find its better to grip the beard close to the shell and pull gently. If any of the mussels are open or the shells are damaged, discard them. They are long dead and not very fresh.
Ingredients- Serves 4 piggies (or 6 standard portions) 1kg local mussels - cleaned and de-bearded 1 large leek - sliced thin 8-10 cloves of garlic, sliced fine 4 spring onions diced fine 6 chilies finely sliced (I use Jalepeno or Birdseye chilies) 150g of butter 1 cup of white wine 2 x 440g of diced roma tomatoes (you can replace with fresh or passatta) 150mL of stock (see my bone stock) Large bunch of chopped Italian parsely 50-100mL of thickened cream (optional) Olive Oil - extra virgin cold pressed (local if you can)
- Add a little olive oil to a large skillet and fry your leeks on medium heat. After a minute or two, add the whites of the spring onions and the chilies. Start with only half your chilli if you are worried about the strength. Fry for a further minute then add your garlic. Don’t let your garlic burn!
- Add in your stock and allow to simmer and reduce, then add in your diced tomatoes and allow your sauce to simmer on medium low heat.
- In a large stock pot on medium high heat, add in your butter and wine. Once the butter is melted and the mixture is getting close to boiling, add in your mussels. Cover with a lid and leave for about 5 minutes.
- Stir the mussels, and once they are open, add in your tomato sauce and stir thoroughly.
- Reduce the heat down to a gentle simmer. You can leave this for quite some time on very low heat.
- When your ready to serve, and in your cream, remaining spring onions and fresh parsley.
Serve with a good glass of wine and fresh crusty bread. You don’t need to discard any mussels that haven’t opened, they are actually super fresh!
This recipe is very forgiving. You can use any herbs you like, any type of onion and you can add in lemon wedges (omit the cream), squid and prawns or even chopped eggplant and capsicum. The variations are endless!
We often make enough to feed a small army! The leftovers are the best, the sauce tends to become more complex and it make’s an amazing marinara. We de-shell the remaining mussels and store in containers in the freezer. Then for a quick, easy and lazy meal we reheat in a pot on the stove, add in more cream and sometimes parmesan or romano cheese and eat with fresh pasta. Too easy!