This must be what folks around the Mediterranean have everyday. Seafood and more seafood. Mussels are protein rich sea critters, that do not look like much but pack a punch. New Zealand mussels are sold by the kg in frozen packs, half-shelved which takes the mystery out of cleaning, and de-bearding. Now on a mussel feeding frenzy, it is one of my favourite meal from out of the freezer to the table.
I have fond memories of my first mussel meal, cooked in white wine and garlic somewhere in St Etienne, France. On that cold winter night, my colleague and I feasted on a huge pot of mussel, tipsy from wine and jokes. Now whenever I have a mussel meal, it will transport me to the globetrotting days and invoke the fond memories of a bygone road warrior.
Here is a Catalan variant. Robust and hearty, the riot of colors in the dish brings bursts of Mediterranean sunshine and images of boats hauling in the harvest of the sea.
Mussel and fish stew for 3 :
2 T chopped garlic
4 shallots, sliced
1 pinch chilli flakes
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups chopped tomato
2 cups green peppers, deseeded and cubed
1/2 kg mussels
1 big fillet of mackerel, skinned and cut into large blocks
Fry onion, garlic and chilli in this order in a deep pot with 2 T of oil, over medium heat. Toss in tomato and peppers. Add sauce. When the liquid in the pot starts to bubble, add mussels and fish.
Cook covered, for a couple of minutes.
Remove cover and continue to simmer until the sauce is thick and taste intense.
Serve hot, with thick sliced bread.