Here’s another brilliant dish from Fernando ‘Perfect Paella’ Gomez, or more specifically his Spanish mother Ana who taught him how to make it. Since it’s his mum’s invention we’ve called it Steamed Mussels a la Ana in the written recipe below.
The combination of the mussels with tomato, celery, white wine and garlic makes a divine broth so make sure to serve with plenty of crusty bread.
Fernando made the paella and mussels one after the other in our video shoot as they’ve both become his signature dishes. However, it would be a bit much to serve them together in one meal I think! The mussels is a wonderful entree dish but you can serve it as a main, too.
Although it has an air of sophistication, it’s an inexpensive dish. It’s also very simple and quick – about 10 minutes to cook, once you’ve cleaned the mussels – so it’s great to prepare just before you serve.
If you’ve never prepared fresh mussels before, just be careful not to use ones that are already open. Open shells are dead and should be discarded. You should also throw away ones with broken or cracked shells. When you’re giving the mussels a scrub and removing any ‘beards’ some mussel shells might open slightly. Don’t panic, just give the shell a tap and it should close again.
When you’re cooking the mussels you want all the shells to open. I particularly like Fernando’s demonstration in the video of shaking the pot to help along the process.
At the end of cooking discard any shells that are still closed – they were dead and should not be eaten. Don’t worry, if you’re buying nice fresh mussels you’re rarely going to come across this problem.
- Olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 5 sticks of celery, chopped
- Tomato passata (puree), enough to cover bottom of pan
- ½ tsp mild paprika
- A bit of white wine
- 1kg of large black mussels, cleaned and de-bearded. *Important note: fresh mussels should be closed. Open shells are dead and should be discarded. Likewise, when the dish is finished, all shells should have opened. Discard any that are closed - they were dead also and should not be eaten.
- Put a few glugs of olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion, garlic and celery and stir, turning the heat up a little. Cook till the onion becomes transparent then turn the heat back down.
- Add enough tomato passata to have a nice covering on the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in about half a teaspoon of mild paprika.
- Leave the mixture to cook a little and reduce.
- Add a couple of glugs of white wine so you have a soupy consistency on the bottom of the pan. Turn up the heat a little and cook for a few moments.
- Gently add the kilo of mussels. Stir well to combine the juices and mussels.
- Put the lid on and leave to cook.
- After 2 minutes check to see if the mussels are opening. If some of the mussels are still closed, put the lid back on the pan and, making sure the lid doesn't fly off, give the pan a good shake. Return it to the heat for a few more minutes.
- After 5 minutes cooking with the lid on the mussels should all have opened and are now ready to eat.
- Serve with crusty bread to mop up the delicious broth.