Another appetizer my sister-in-law whipped up last weekend for our family gathering involved steaming mussels in some white wine and topping them with a simple salsa made with corn, tomato, and a few other ingredients. They were a real treat, easy to prepare and a huge success.
The recipe calls for using a hot sauce to spice them up and add some contrasting flavors. I used hot sauce a chef friend of mine uses in his restaurant called Tuong ot Srirachia. Depending on how hot you like your food, you can add more or less.
Mussels Topped with Corn/Tomato Salsa
1 cup of cooked corn - I would use canned corn until fresh corn is in season
½ cup diced tomato
½ cup diced red onion
½ cup cilantro leaves
1-tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice - bottled lime juice just doesn't do it for a dish like this
1 - 2 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce like Tuong ot Srirachia depending on your heat threshold
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup dry white wine
3 dozen mussels
How To Prepare At Home
If you are using fresh corn, cook it, remove the kernels and reserve.
Dice the tomato, onion and chop up the cilantro leaves.
Squeeze the limes.
Clean the mussels. The best way to clean mussels is to first soak them in fresh water for about 20 minutes. Next you want to cut off the byssal threads or more commonly known as the "beard". An easy way is to grab the beard with a paper towel and pull it hard toward the hinge end of the mussel. You never want to pull it toward the opening end or death to the mussel will occur. An even easier way is to cut the beard off with some kitchen scissors.
If there is any crud on the outside shell, you can remove it with a kitchen brush. And very important, the mussels should be tightly closed. If you find one that isn't, throw it out. It is most likely dead and not worth the chance of getting sick from.
Combine the corn, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, oil and hot sauce. Adjust the seasoning with the salt and pepper.
To cook the mussels - In a large soup or stock pot, add the wine and bring it to a boil. Add the cleaned mussels, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for a few minutes. The mussels are done when they pop open. You may have to stir them once or twice to get them to pop. If you find one or two that didn't open, throw it out. If you find a whole bunch that didn't open, give your fishmonger some grief.
You are going to serve the mussels on the half shell so you can toss the top half away. The mussels are attached to the shell so using a kitchen knife "shuck" the mussels. This just means to slide your knife along the shell to separate the mussel from it. Be careful not to cut yourself.
Leave the shucked mussels right on the shell. The reason for shucking them is to make it easier for the person to eat them. You don't have to shuck them and that would be fine. It just means the person eating them has to separate meat from the shell with their teeth. Actually, no big deal.
Top each mussel with the tomato corn salsa and arrange them on a serving plate or individual plates if this is a sit down dinner. It's nice to garnish the plate with some cilantro leaves and maybe some lime wedges.
That's it. A really simple but elegant appetizer.
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