Last Week’s Special – 23

Mussels with a Spicy Tomato Sauce or Piri Piri and Picpoul de Pinet

Moules marinière, Mosselen met Look, Mussels in Beer, Mussels with Piri Piri and Mussels with Anise, served with crusted bread or with French fries: mussels are great to combine.

But before we start, please read the Mussel Basics.

Mussels with a Spicy Tomato Sauce or Piri Piri is a nice, hot surprise, provided the mussels are really tasty. If they are not, then the spicy sauce will overwhelm the mussels and there will not be a balance in the dish. Mussels with a Spicy Tomato Sauce or Piri Piri is an excellent lunch and a great starter of a more spicy dinner.

In this case we make a spicy tomato sauce. If you go for Piri Piri, then please make your own. The industry-made Piri Piri is never as tasteful.

We enjoyed our mussels with a glass of Picpoul de Pinet AOP les Flamants. Let’s explain the name: the grape is called Picpoul Blanc. And the vinyards belong to a village called Pinet; close to the Etang de Thau in the south of France between Narbonne and Montpellier. The terroir (think calcareous soil, clay, quartz) is influenced by the sea, which is reflected in the mineral taste of the wine. The story is that Picpoul could be read as pique poul which translates into something like ‘stings the lip’; a nice reflection of the high acidity of the grapes. This acidity guarantees a refreshing white wine, which is exceptional given the warm climate. The wine is bright yellow with a very subtle touch of green. It’s aromatic, floral and fruity. The taste has notes of citrus and hopefully some bitterness, which will make it into a really interesting wine. To be combined with oysters, mussels, fruit de mer, skate and fish in general.
Here is what you need:

  • 1 kilo of Mussels (we prefer small ones)
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Garlic Glove
  • Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Chives, Thyme)
  • White Whine

And for the sauce:

  • 3 Ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Shallot
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic Gloves
  • 1 Red Chilli

Start by making the sauce. Remove the pits from the tomatoes and cut the meat in small chunks. Peel the onion and garlic gloves and glaze these in olive oil. Ten minutes on low heat will do the job. Add the tomatoes and the tomato juice (simply put the pits and the left overs from the tomato in a sieve and use a spoon to squeeze out all the lovely juices and flavours).
Cook for an hour, transfer to the blender and make a very smooth sauce. Transfer back to the pan and reduce until it’s thick.

Warm a fairly big pan and gently glaze the sliced onion in oil and butter. Then add the chopped garlic. Add a glass of white wine and the bouquet garni and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, allowing the tastes to integrate.
Turn up the heat to maximum and when really hot add the mussels and close the pan with the lid. Listen and observe: you will be able to hear when content of the pan is becoming hot again. You will see steam, more steam. Check the status of the mussels. Close the lid, listen and observe. Remove half of the juices from the mussels, then pour the sauce over the mussels and give the pan a good shake before serving, making sure the sauce covers the mussels. We prefer our mussels with spicy tomato sauce or Piri Piri with crusted bread.


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