Tonia Todman - Jubilee Lake Fishing Festival, Daylesford 2009
Mussels in white wine, tomato and garlic recipe
This can be a quick meal if you use purchased tomato passata and fish stock, or enjoy the journey and make your own fish stock and fresh tomato sauce. Passata, or sugo, is sold in tall, fat bottles in supermarkets labelled ‘tomato sauce’, and often it contains herbs and garlic.
You can, if it appeals, extend this recipe into a fish soup of sorts – add bite-sized chunks of white fish and calamari, baby octopus and shelled prawns to the mixture when you first add the mussels – delicious!
1 large onion, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper and 8-10 peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves, slightly crushed
2-3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 generous sprig of thyme or fennel
Parsley stalks – about 10
2 tablespoons Australian olive oil
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1 ½ cups dry white wine, or more
1 cup – at least - fresh tomato sauce or purchased passata
1 ½ litres fish stock – see below
- A large, lidded cooking pot is essential for making this dish. A wok with a lid is excellent. Bring the herbs, pepper and peppercorns, wine, stock and tomato sauce to boil. Add mussels to the liquid. If the liquid does not come up to almost the top of the mussels, add more stock, sauce and wine. Fix the lid on securely and place pot over high heat. In a few minutes there will be a rush of steam – carefully remove the lid and you will find that the mussels will have (mostly) opened their shells.
- Remove those that have opened and place on a warm plate nearby, leave the unopened mussels to cook a minute or so longer. Leaving the liquid on low heat, discard any un-opened mussels and return the opened mussels to the pot to warm through. Add the olive oil and pesto and mix through for another minute. If you have added other sea-food, leave it to sit for another 3 minutes or so.
- Have ready warmed, large soup bowls. Using tongs, distribute the mussels amongst the bowls, then pour over the liquid through a large-mesh strainer. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and serve with a spoon and fork, a wedge of lemon and crunchy warm bread to mop up the juices.
Fish stock: Gather together: prawn shells, fish heads and bones (your fishmonger will have these – they’re inexpensive) some roughly chopped celery sticks and carrot, 2 sliced leeks, 6 ripe tomatoes that are peeled and chopped, roughly chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Add all these to a large lidded stock pot, cover with cold water and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally. Keep simmering for 1 ½ hours, then strain. If use is imminent, keep in fridge, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Fresh tomato sauce: Peel 2kg of tomatoes by immersing them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. The skin will pull away easily using a small, sharp knife. Chop them roughly, set aside in a bowl. Heat ¼ cup Australian Olive oil in a large pot, add 2 washed and sliced leeks and 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes or until leeks are soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer as long as you wish. The shorter the time, the fresher the taste – so taste as you simmer. Add ripped basil leaves when finished. Keeps in a lidded jar in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
Copyright Tonia Todman 2008