Mussels are my favorite shellfish to cook, but only if I can get my hands on the live ones from New Zealand. The combination of earthy sweetness from the flesh and saltiness from the sea gives it a special flavor. This version was born out of a tiredness of the white wine garlic or beer base which mussels are usually cooked in. Sake gives a much better aftertaste.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 1 pack of live New Zealand Mussels
- 1 can of diced tomatoes or 2 large fresh tomatoes
- Basil (Fresh or Dried)
- 4 cloves of Garlic
- 1 large Yellow Onion
Getting it Done!
- Wash the mussels, remove the ‘beards’, set aside in a bowl and refrigerate it
- Start by making the base sauce which the mussels will be steamed in
- Finely dice the tomatoes, onion and the garlic
- In a heavy base pan, add enough olive oil to cover the base
- Over medium heat, brown the onions, stir every 2-3 minutes or so
- When the onions are light brown, add the garlic (always onions before garlic as garlic burns easily)
- After about 3 minutes, add the tomatoes, generous amount of basil, a few pinches of salt and black pepper
- Let the mixture simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are very soft
- Taste, adjust accordingly and leave it aside to cool
- After about 30 minutes, blend the mixture
- Place 2 to 3 generous ladles of the mixture back into the pan over medium heat (The rest can be used a tomato sauce if you reduce it, or as tomato soup if you add some chicken stock)
- When the mixture is simmering, add a generous splash of sake, stir, taste and adjust accordingly. Feel free to add more sake.
- Add the mussels at this point and cover the pan. If you don’t have a cover press a layer of aluminum foil directly over the mussels
- Let this cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until most of the mussels have opened up