For me, mussel dishes are something I order in a restaurant, but for some odd reason, have never made at home. I guess I was always afraid, or intimidated to make them? I don’t know.
One day, I was missing my family in Sperlonga. As I mentioned in my first blog post, Sperlonga is the little town in Italy where my mom was born and I spent my summers as a kid. Since I was missing them, I decided to make mussels just like they do. When I’m in Italy, I’ll have this dish at least once a week. It’s served at the end of a big Italian lunch. Because in Italy, most Italians have big lunches (ie. pasta, meat/fish/vegetables) instead of big dinners. Kind of opposite from our North American habits where we’ll have small lunches and bigger dinners.
I’ll let you know now that this isn’t your “typical” mussel recipe that you’ll find on restaurant menus. What I mean by that is it doesn’t have a tomato or curry sauce that you can dip your bread into (which is the way I’ve had all mussels in restaurants). But I think that’s exactly what makes this dish so beautiful- it is the epitome of what Italian cooking is should be- simple so that the flavors of the few ingredients really come through.
So here goes my “Mussels alla Sperlonga:”
Put your mussels in a bowl full of cold water so that if there’s any sand left inside, the water will draw it out. I let them stay in the bowl for 15-20 minutes.
Start prepping your ingredients in the mean time. Like I said, this dish is simple. The only ingredients you’ll need in addition to the mussels are olive oil, garlic, parsley, white wine, lemon, salt and pepper.
Once you’ve had the mussels in water for a bit, you’ll need to clean them- ie. scrub the shell and debeard them. There’s a great instructional on how to do that here. Grab a big pot (that all your mussels will fit into) and add olive oil. Once it has heated up, add some chopped garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, add the mussels and white wine. Place the lid on the pot and let the mussels cook.
When the mussels start to open (about 10 minutes) add the parsley and lemon, along with salt and pepper to taste. Give them a good stir as well. Place the lid back on and let them cook a little bit more. There should be a little juice at the bottom created by the wine, and lemon, but not too much. Cook another 5 minutes. By this time the mussels should be done and opened fully.
Transfer to a plate and enjoy! I enjoyed my mussels with a nice side salad and glass of wine!
Have you ever tried making mussels at home? Let me know in the comments below!