The expression “Italian style” is fairly vague, keeping in mind that Italy and the Italians have a multitude of styles. However, today’s recipe was brought, along with the mussels, by my neighbor Emil from Moqups (click on the link to see who I’m dealing with), who goes to great lengths when it comes to researching recipes, so I’m certain that the recipe is, indeed, Italian.
Those are the mussels. Farm ones, about 2 euro and a half per kilogram at Auchan. It was a pleasant surprise that from an entire bag I threw out just two mussels.
This is Emil. He helped with the improvised panel that put the mussels in a better light.
Cleaned mussels will hardly be sold by anyone. They come with some sort of weeds strongly attached to the shell, that sometimes go inside the scallop: you can take them off rather easily by pulling the weeds in the direction of their growth, meaning towards the part that opens.
The scourer and the cold water do the rest.
Somebody asked me a while ago: “how do you know they’re fresh?”. That’s simple. Fresh mussels are…alive. If they are open before you cook them and if they don’t close right after you touch them with your finger (sometimes they open even more), that means they’re dead and you don’t want to eat such a scallop. If during cooking they don’t open, throw them away, because it means they were dead before you cooked them and, again, you don’t want to have such a scallop. You can leave them in the refrigerator overnight at 4-6 degrees Celsius (for example), but don’t put them in the freezer as it will kill them and you won’t be able to use them.
For my mussels I have prepared a few cloves of garlic, which I cleaned and slightly crushed.
In a pan, I put two-three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Then, I added the garlic cloves. I put the pan on low heat. A lot of people burn the garlic in oil and the results aren’t good. Here’s a trick, regardless of how experimented you are: put the oil and the garlic at the same time on low heat and wait until the oil becomes really hot. When the garlic starts to change its color, the oil has plenty of flavor. You can take out the garlic or leave it in the oil if you want and add the other ingredients over it.
I added whole canned tomatoes (400-420 gr) which I crushed with a fork.
I then placed the scallops in the pan which is now on high temperature and I stirred really well. After a minute, a poured 50-60 milliliters of white wine (I had Italian wine) over the scallops. Immediately placing a lid on the pan helps. Leave the lid on for another minute.
Don’t keep the scallops on heat more than 3 minutes. If you keep them for 2 minutes and 45-50 minutes, that’s fine. Four minutes is too long, and the scallop meat, which is rather tender, will magically lessen. After removing the pan off the stove, squeeze half a lemon over the scallops and sprinkle two large handfuls of grossly chopped parsley. Stir well. The sauce and the scallops will have an incredibly fresh flavor.
The final touch: a bit of hot pepper that was dried, ground and kept in oil. Put it over the scallops and over the baguette toasted on one side. A kilogram of mussels, with the sauce that comes with them and the side bread, can feed four people at a reasonable dinner from the viewpoint of quantity. It’s not something serious if you don’t like hot peppers. However, do try to add at least a bit. If you don’t have a baguette, a few slices of bread which are thicker than usual (2 cm), toasted on one side, do a great job.
This goes well with spaghetti as well.