My love for pickled mussels began when I started working at New York's Estela. Chef Ignacio Mattos dreamed up a dish that has become the staple on his much-adored menu.
When developing my own pickled mussels recipe, our editorial director, Adam Sachs, jokingly warned me not to draw too much inspiration from Mattos's beloved dish. So I dropped the Grenache and sherry vinegar marinade, got rid of the aioli and went in a completely different direction.
I decided to pull some of my favorite Asian flavors: ginger, sesame, rice vinegar, soy sauce and Chinese hot oil. What results is an acidic pickling liquid that contains some lip-smacking heat. Serve it with crusty bread and see what you've been missing.
To learn more, read "Cool Moules."
Spicy Pickled Mussels with Turnips and Greens
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 38 minutes, plus marinating time
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 58 minutes, plus marinating time
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
One ½-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 cup dry white wine
⅓ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon La-Yu (Chinese hot chile oil)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 bunch (about 4 ounces) baby turnips with greens, trimmed and cut into ⅛-inch rounds, greens reserved
Twelve ½-inch thick baguette slices, sliced on a bias, grilled or toasted under a broiler
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallot and cook, stirring often, until completely softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking until fragrant, about 2 more minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Wipe the pan clean and heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the mussels and stir for a minute. Add the wine. Cover and cook until the mussels open, about 3 minutes.
3. Drain the mussels in a colander placed over a large mixing bowl to catch the cooking liquid. Remove the mussels from their shells; discard any that do not open. Transfer the mussels to the bowl with the shallots and garlic and set aside. Strain the reserved mussel juices through a fine mesh strainer over the mussels. Add the vinegar, chile oil, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and ground fennel seeds. Cover and refrigerate.
4. While the mussels are marinating, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the turnips and cook, until almost tender, about 2 minutes. Add the turnip greens and cook until they just begin to wilt, about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the turnips and greens to a paper towel-lined sheet tray and allow to dry. Add the turnips and greens to the pickled mussel mixture and continue to marinate for at least 4 hours before serving.
5. To serve, take the pickled mussels out of the refrigerator an hour before serving to bring them up to room temperature. Spoon the mussels into 4 small bowls and serve with grilled bread and cilantro sprigs.