For our mussels escabèche , we first steam mussels in wine, then marinate them in a fragrant sherry vinegar mixture.
SERVES 6 to 8
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Mussels escabèche calls for pickling briny mussels in an aromatic mixture of vinegar, olive oil, and fragrant spices; we thought this sounded like a unique addition to any tapas spread. The first step in creating our recipe was figuring out how to cook the mussels so that they would be plump and tender. We found that steaming them in a mixture of white wine and water infused them with flavor from the start; bringing the cooking liquid to a boil before adding the mussels ensured that the mussels cooked quickly, reducing the risk of overcooking. After removing the mussels from their shells, we made the marinade by blooming our aromatics in oil; a bay leaf offered depth, and smoked paprika provided earthy nuance. A healthy dose of sherry vinegar was necessary to pickle the mussels; its bright, bold flavor gave this small bite big impact. We suggest serving these mussels with toothpicks and extra bread for dipping in the flavorful marinade. We prefer the bright flavor of these mussels after a quick pickling period of just 15 minutes, but the mussels can be refrigerated for up to 2 days in their vinegar brine. Let the mussels come to room temperature before serving or the oil will look cloudy and congealed. For more information on mussels, see here .
⅔ cup white wine
⅔ cup water
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ small red onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ cup sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper
1. Bring wine and water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add mussels, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mussels open, 3 to 6 minutes. Strain mussels and discard cooking liquid and any mussels that have not opened. Let mussels cool slightly, then remove mussels from shells and place in large bowl; discard shells.
2. Heat oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, 1 tablespoon parsley, and paprika. Cook, stirring often, until garlic is fragrant and onion is slightly wilted, about 1 minute.
3. Off heat, stir in vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Pour mixture over mussels and let sit for 15 minutes. (Mussels can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; bring to room temperature before serving.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley before serving.
Occasionally, mussels will have a weedy but harmless piece, called a beard, protruding from their shells. To remove it, grasp beard between your thumb and flat side of paring knife and tug.