Finding myself going through the chills of winter in Melbourne, knowing that the northern hemisphere is now enjoying a hot, steamy summer, doesn’t always come easy.
For a European girl like me the months of June, July and August are instantly associated with hot weather, drinks by the beach, seafood eaten with bare, sandy hands.
So, as I share this recipe for one of my summertime favorite dishes, please spare a thought for me, bundled up in coat, hat and scarf, sipping hot soup and secretly longing for a glass of chilled white wine, a bowl of chillie mussles and summer on a sardinian beach.
Ingredients, serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main
4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
200 ml of white wine
2 garlic cloves, 1 whole, 1 finely chopped
4 spring onions (shallots), roughly chopped
two handfuls of parsley, leaves roughly chopped, stalks finely chopped
1 red chillie, finely chopped (de-seed if you don’t like it too hot)
1 kg of Mussles
Toasted sourdough for serving
Clean the mussles by pulling out the beards and by scrubbing the shells to get rid of any grit. Place them in a bowl and set aside.
Discard any mussles that are already open or that have a broken shell.
Heat up the oil in a large heavy-sided frying pan. Fry the spring onion, whole garlic clove, parsley stalks and chillie for 1 minute, than add the chopped garlic and cook together for a further minute or until the garlic turns blond and smells fragrant. Pour in the wine and continue sizzling over high heat for 1-2 minutes or until the alcohol has evaporated.
Drop the shells in and cover with a fitted lid.
The steam will start opening the mussles in 2-3 minutes.
Lift them out with a slotted spoon and set them aside in a bowl as they open, to avoid overcooking. Discard any that refuse to open. Taste for salt and add some if you feel so inclined. I hardly ever do as the muscles and the liquor they release when cooking are pure sea-water nectar.