Mussels are a wonderful summer treat and can be found along the coast and inland waterways of Perth and the Southwest. Chilli mussels are of course a much-loved dish but try this delicious recipe from Catalonia; coastal region in the northeast of Spain. A saffron, garlic, almond meal and breadcrumb topping called a picada thickens a spicy tomato sauce base, adding a crunchy top and punchy flavour.
2 cups white wine
2 fresh bay leaves
2 kg mussels, scrubbed & de-bearded
2 onions, roughly chopped
50 g unsalted butter
3 cups canned diced tomatoes
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp harissa [optional]
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sea salt flakes
100 g fresh breadcrumbs
100 g almond meal
¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped
freshly cracked black pepper
Crusty bread, to serve
- In a large pot, bring the white wine with the bay leaves to the boil.
- Tip the mussels in, place the lid on top and cook on high heat for 4 – 5 minutes until the mussels have all just opened.
- Place a colander into a large bowl and drain the mussels, reserving the cooking juices. Place the lid on top of the mussels to prevent them drying out.
- In the same pot, fry the onions in the butter until softened. Stir through the tomato, paprika and harissa. Bring to the boil.
- Strain the mussel cooking juices through a sieve into the simmering tomato sauce. Reduce until just starting to thicken.
- Preheat oven to 200 c.
- Crush the garlic, salt and saffron until creamy. Fry the breadcrumbs in a generous splash of olive oil until golden. Toss together with the almond meal, garlic mixture and parsley until well combined.
- Stir the mussels through the tomato sauce and then tip into a large deep baking dish. Scatter over the breadcrumb mixture and bake for 10 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the topping browned and crunchy.
- Serve with crusty bread.