The cuisine of Puglia is defined by some very basic principles: sun, beach, sea and orecchiette. It takes shape in simple dishes, with a lot of flavor, in which fresh fish and shellfish are usually the protagonists. In many coastal areas, traditional recipes made with seafood were originally dishes that were prepared in the port or directly on the boats, with freshly caught fish and basic products that could be transported: garlic, onions, dried cayenne peppers, tomatoes, potatoes , rice…. Some examples are the emblanco from Malaga, the cim i tomba from Tossa de Mar, the suquet, the stew… Returning to southern Italy, we find I eat tarantinamussels to the tarantina.
As usually happens in traditional recipes, the processes and ingredients are adapted to the house and the hand that prepares them. This part of a garlic, cayenne and tomato sauce, to which fresh mussels, parsley and lots of pepper are added. Some steam the mussels first, reserving the liquid they release to add it to the stir-fry that they prepare separately, incorporating the mussels last. I am in favor of optimizing casserole, so I cook the sauce until it is very reduced, place the cleaned mussels on top, put the lid on and let them open: the result is a thick and spicy sauce with many opportunities ahead.
They can be eaten as is, as a seafood soup -avoiding catching one of the chillies that may be floating in the delicious broth-, or soaked with bread, pasta or rice. The simplest way is to place a couple of slices of toasted bread with oil and garlic at the bottom of the bowl in which we will later serve the mussels. Once soaked it is a wonderful thickener that will give the sauce body.
To prepare a pasta or rice -it can also be done the next day if we have eaten the mussels and we have left over- you simply have to remove the mussels once they have opened and add half a glass of rice or pastin (small soup pasta). If there is little liquid, you can add a little more water and that’s it. While it is cooking -pastina usually takes five minutes, rice about 16- you can take the opportunity to remove some mussels from their shells. Once we have removed from the heat, add the mussels to the stew and serve immediately.
Remove the beards from the mussels, which sometimes resist a little.
- 1 kg of mussels
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 dried cayenne peppers
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste
- ½ glass of white wine
- Extra virgin olive oil
Place the mussels in a large bowl covered with water with three tablespoons of salt. Leave in the refrigerator for two hours.
Clean the mussels with a tip and remove the beard.
Chop the garlic cloves and cut the tomato into small cubes. In a large pot, fry the garlic and cayenne peppers in oil until they start to colour. Add the tomatoes and let cook for 8-10 minutes.
Add the concentrated tomato and the white wine. Allow to reduce until the alcohol evaporates.
Add the mussels and cover with the lid. Let cook for three or four minutes. When they open, remove from the heat and add the chopped parsley. Serve at the moment.
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