Hollander and de Koning mussels are plump and sweet, so this preparation is perfect. Paired with some crunchy bread and smoky spices, it is a fantastic snack or appetizer.
1 lb Hollander and de Köning mussels
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 bulb fennel diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2c dry sherry
1/4c sherry vinegar
1T Pimentòn dulce (sweet smoked paprika)
1/2t ground fennel seed or fennel pollen
1t kosher salt
1/4 c chopped chives
Good crusty bread
Serrano ham/ prosciutto (optional)
In a wide and shallow pot, sweat half the onion, fennel and garlic in olive oil. Once translucent, add the mussels, stir to coat with the oil, and add the sherry. Set up a colander over a bowl next to the mussel pan, so the mussel juices can be saved. Cover to steam the mussels over medium heat until they open, removing them one by one into the colander. Once they are all open, remove the pot from heat and set aside.
Pick the meat gently from each shell, making sure any liquid remains in the bowl with the colander in it. Allow the picked meats to cool in a separate bowl.
Strain the liquid left in the pan and the juices from the bowl – there should be up to 1 cup of liquid (if less, add water to make 1 cup). In a sauté pan, sweat the remaining onion, fennel and garlic until translucent. Add the mussel liquid, reducing by half. Remove from heat and add the vinegar and spices, whisking well. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and a little heat from cayenne pepper if need be!). Set aside to cool.
Once both the mussel meats and the liquid are cool, combine along with the chives and store in an airtight container overnight.
To assemble, toast or grill sliced bread. Top with mussels, a little of the liquid and a touch of good olive oil. We topped ours with dried grape tomatoes, crispy shallots and some serrano ham. Another application for the marinated mussels can be to top a grain salad or to toss with fresh pasta.