I lived in Spain for many years and I continue to be inspired by memories of the delicious snack times al fresco in our garden. I dream about the “merienda” or “the noonish time snack” before the ubiquitous 3pm lunchtime. The clinking of glasses during the “tapas” hour in the early evenings with wine or sherry to help make it through to the late dinners served at 10 and 11pm is fresh on my mind as I think about all those little plates.
That is why I find it funny that although New York offers every culinary adventure, I never see those delicious smoked mussels with tomato, “mejillas ahumados con tomate” on menus so I make them myself at home and for the restaurant at The Greenporter Hotel. I think these are a great option for a holiday or party appetizer during any season or as one of the seafood dishes for your Christmas Eve “Feast of the Seven Fishes”. Recently some lovely customers visited us from Connecticut and asked the the recipe. This is for you!
Smoking the mussels
1 lb. of fresh mussels (I prefer the smaller PEIs but larger Maine mussels are fine for smoking as well). Wash, debeard and dry to prepare for seasoning.
Seasoning: Place mussels in a large bowl, add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1/4 spoon of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder and a pinch of red pepper chili flakes. Toss thoroughly to coat the shells getting them ready to smoke.
Using a box style stove top smoker, add 2 tablespoons of hickory chips under the smoking plate and place seasoned mussels, complete with placing shells on top of the plate, filling the box one inch from the top.
Slide on the top of the lid so that it fits snugly. Turn the flame on low and smoke for 15 minutes.
Uncover, allow to cool and place in fridge to chill. Save the liquid from the mussels for serving. Once chilled. remove from the shell, placing one mussel in half a shell and fill with chopped fresh tomato with herbs and finely minced shallots. Pour the liquid from the mussels over the top and serve. This is the time to use one of those beautiful serving platters you received as a wedding or anniversary gift. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro and some lemon wedges.
This dish is delicious with a bit of White Sangria made with some fruit local white or even your favorite sparkling.