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  • The Chopping Blog

Mussels Escabeche: A Shellfish Solution

Posted by Alex on Feb 27, 2024

Picture this: you’re the chef of a restaurant where you have a steamed mussels dish on the menu. You got your shipment of mussels on Friday, and the restaurant had a slower weekend than expected. It's Sunday evening and the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but you have a few pounds of mussels left over. What do you do knowing they might not survive until Wednesday? Mussels Escabeche is the answer!

Mussels Escabeche is a method of preparing mussels which involves steaming them, removing the meat from the shell, and marinating them in olive oil, vinegar, aromatics and spices. This dish from Spain can be dated back hundreds of years and was not only a great way to enjoy mussels and other seafood, but also a great means of preservation since they are essentially being pickled.

The thing I love so much about this dish is that besides the mussels, it can be made with foods that are likely already in your fridge and/or pantry. When I make Mussels Escabeche, I don’t necessarily follow a strict recipe, but more so a few simple ratios, and the rest I measure with my heart. The most important ratio to follow is a 2:1 ratio of extra virgin olive oil to vinegar, my favorite being white wine vinegar. Besides that ratio and an appropriate amount of salt, you just need aromatics to flavor your liquid, which is where measuring with your heart comes into play. For this batch, I included thyme, bay leaves, fennel stalks, paprika, lemon peels, and black peppercorns. Other popular additions are rosemary, cinnamon sticks, and saffron. Whatever aromatics you decide on, you will want to infuse them by steeping them in your olive oil on a low heat before combining with your salt and vinegar.

The next important guideline is making enough of this liquid to completely cover all of your mussels. So, I steam my cleaned mussels in some water until they open, pick the meat out of each mussel and add them to a mason jar or container, then pour the liquid over them ensuring that they are completely covered. Once everything is cooled down, I throw a lid on and put it in the fridge. 

Mussels in jarI like to let them sit for at least two days before eating, and ideally finish them within the week that I made them. The oil and vinegar are naturally going to separate, so I shake my jar around every so often to redistribute everything. Once they are marinated, they make for a great snack with some crackers. They go great as part of a spread with cured meats and cheeses as well, or on their own as a stand-alone dish. To enjoy this batch, I paired them with a roasted red pepper relish and garnished with some sliced Castelvetrano olives and fresh dill, and served with crostini. 

EscabecheMussels Escabeche is one of my favorite Spanish recipes. At our Hands-on Spanish Tapas classes coming up in April, we make some other incredible Spanish recipes with similar flavor profiles, so please join us!

Register now

Topics: mussels, pickle, seafood, Spanish, Spain, pickled, escabeche

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