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Catalonian Mussel Gratin

December 23, 2019

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.


(Serves 4)

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

pinch saffron

100 g fresh breadcrumbs

olive oil

100 g almond meal

¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped

freshly cracked black pepper

Crusty bread, to serve


  1. In a large pot, bring the white wine with the bay leaves to the boil.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. In the same pot, fry the onions in the butter until softened. Stir through the tomato, paprika and harissa. Bring to the boil.
  5. Strain the mussel cooking juices through a sieve into the simmering tomato sauce. Reduce until just starting to thicken.
  6. Preheat oven to 200 c.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Serve with crusty bread.

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