Mussels, ( mejillones), are ubiquitous in Spain, popular served as a simple tapas, and in the many rice dishes such as Paella and Caldoso ( a thick seafood rice stew).
They are plentiful to buy, and they are huge, with their purpley -blue shiny shells, and coral coloured meat. Most of the mussels we buy here in Andalucia ,come from Galicia in the north west of Spain, famed for its seafood.
Their meaty texture makes them versatile in creamy broths and soups, or simply steamed, and their fresh briny smell transports you straight to the sea.
They must be bought really fresh, and cooked the same day,(discarding any don’t open when cooked).
This mussels recipe is slightly different, and inspired by the Bloody Mary drink, adding Vodka and sherry , and it is slightly spicy too.
Don’t be put off by the many ingredients, just get them all out to start with ,and work your way through them. The` sauce` can also be prepared ahead, leaving the lemon and cream and parsley to add at the last minute.
I promise you that it is worth it! You can tweak the spiciness according to taste.
Bloody Mary Mussels
1 kg Mussels-de-bearded.
3 cloves of garlic
1 onion ,finely chopped
1 teaspoon of celery salt
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
3 bay leaves ( ours were picked from our neighbours garden!)
1 glass of sherry
1 glass of vodka
2 x tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of consommé, (if you can find this in Spain, you are a better woman than me! I used 400ml chicken stock instead).
2 teaspoons of tabasco
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of Castor sugar
Salt and pepper
Juice of one lemon ( ours was picked from our tree!)
50ml double cream
Bunch of parsley , roughly chopped.
Wash the mussels thoroughly, discarding any that do not close tightly when you tap them. Set aside.
Heat some olive oil in a large pan, add the onion, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and soften over a medium-low heat. After about five minutes , add the sherry and vodka, and simmer for a few minutes.
Add the celery salt, chopped tomatoes, consommé ( or stock),tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and sugar, and simmer for five-ten minutes.
Up to this stage, the recipe can be prepared earlier if you wish.
In a large pan ( I use a jam pan), add a splash of olive oil , and cook the mussels with the lid on. Steam for five minutes, or until they are cooked and the shells are open. Discard any closed ones.
Add the sauce to the pan of mussels and stir in the cream and lemon juice.
Taste, and adjust any seasoning or spice.
Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley and with good bread .