I love seafood and fish. I feel so healthy and light when I eat it. It just feels right for my body. I have a fondness for mussels that began early in my childhood as my mother and I loved Spicy Mussel Marinara and I couldn’t get enough when she made it for me. As I began my culinary journey, I grew to love and create many dishes around seafood and mussels in general.
I love the richness of this dish in terms of the flavor of the chorizo and the depth of flavor it gives the broth. The saffron gives it wonderful color and the smokiness from the paprika is lovely.
This is a light but substantial dish, that can easily be enjoyed as an appetizer or meal, served with a salad and some crusty bread for dipping.
A word about mussels
When I buy mussels I like to look for PEI mussels, which are Prince Edward Island Mussels that come from, like the name suggests, Prince Edward Island, which is in Canada. I opt for organic whenever possible. Most mussels come in mesh packaging and sold by weight. My batch were 3 1/2 lbs. which yielded about 20 mussels per pound. You certainly don’t need to make that many, especially if you will be making these as an appetizer, mine fed five with leftovers.
To process mussels when you get them home, you will want to consume them within 48 hours of buying them. I like to use them within one day, but have used them within two days with no issues. Just make certain you buy them from a reputable fishmonger.
Also, you will need to scrub the mussels to remove any barnacles or any beard that is on them. That is the hairlike fibers that are on the shell. You can cut them or just pull them with a little effort to remove them. The beard is a band of elastic threads that helps the mussel adhere to solid surfaces in their natural habitat. Rinse the mussels in cold water, discard any mussels that have a damaged shell or are open and do not close when light pressure is applied. They are dead and not suitable for consumption. I simply place them in a large bowl in the refrigerator uncovered.
What is the difference between Spanish Chorizo and Mexican Chorizo?
Spanish chorizo is dry cured pork, usually made using smoked paprika, garlic, and salt, where as Mexican chorizo is uncooked ground pork seasoned with various chili powders, and spices like cumin, and Mexican oregano and needs to be cooked. While each one is delicious in its own right, but the Spanish chorizo is authentic, and holds up better in this dish.
Saffron is expensive, can I omit it here?
Because of the way saffron is harvested, it is one of the most expensive spices. Derived from the crocus flower, it has only three stamen contained within them, you know… (those long slender filaments, or the male fertilizing organ, if you will.. responsible for pollination) which do not produce a large quantity per flower, and whereby the process to cultivate and process saffron is labor intensive. To put it into cost perspective, an ounce of saffron goes for about $500 US dollars!! Yikes!! I like to buy my saffron on Amazon, or in my local specialty market, where it is considerablly cheaper than buying it in the grocery store. However, if you should find yourself having to purchase it in the grocery store, a great spice company with a large array of herbs and spices can be found in most markets on the International Foods aisle, the line is called Badia, they are an American based company, and the price point and quality are superb. When I use saffaron, I know it is going to be a special meal, as it truly adds a special richness to dishes. A good substitute for saffron is turmeric, which will give a similar hue to dishes where saffron is not the key ingredient. I wouldn’t go making my Spanish Saffron Rice with turmeric, but in certain dishes you can get away with it without it making a huge difference.
I hope you give this dish a try. It is like a trip to Spain in your kitchen. Almost!!!
Spanish Style Mussels with Chorizo
An authentic Spanish dish with a delicate and flavorful broth that is hearty and satisfying and perfect for a dinner party or a quiet evening in!
- You can substitute ground turmeric for the saffron in this dish.
Credit: CrazySexySavor.com/Susan Mangieri-Maurath
- 3 lbs. of mussels, preferably Organic PEI
- 1 lb. of Spanish chorizo, sliced on the bias (fancy culinary term for on a an angle)
- 1 small Spanish onion diced
- pinch of Saffron threads or 1 tsp. of ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 tsp. of sugar
- 1 tsp. of smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. of hot paprika (sweet can be used)
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 can of tomato paste
- 1/2 cup of dry red wine like a Pinot Noir
- 1 14 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes and their liquid, like Muir Glen organic tomatoes
- chopped fresh cilantro and chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
- Kosher salt and cracked pepper
- In a large skillet with a lid or Dutch oven, heat on medium high heat, adding a bit small bit of EVOO, saute the sliced Spanish chorizo, about three or four minutes to get a light golden color and allow for the chorizo to release some of the flavor into the oil. Remove the chorizo in from the pan and drain on absorbent paper. Set aside.
- Lower heat, adding in about a tablespoon of oil to the same pot, and begin to saute onions and garlic, along with the paprika, to extract and bloom essence in the oil. Saute about three minutes before adding in tomato paste, along with the sugar. Cook the paste about three or four minutes to build flavors and create a rich base for the broth.
- Add in red wine and mix well. Add in tomatoes, along with the saffron, red pepper flakes, Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste. Allow sauce to simmer for at least 20 minutes to meld flavors. After 20 minutes, turn up the heat to medium and place in the mussels. Cover with lid and allow to cook for ten minutes. after ten minutes stir well, and cover for another five minutes or until all of the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that have not opened at this point, they are dead and inedible.
- Top with fresh parsley and cilantro, ladle into bowls and serve along with crusty bread for dipping and sopping up the heavenly broth.
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