Though inspired by a dish I ate at Pelegrini restaurant in Šibenik in Croatia several years ago, this recipe morphed into my own original creation, for the simple reason that I forgot what Pelegrini’s tasted like! I remember there was the marinated bivalve, the vegetable brunoise, the chives, and a purée whose composition was somewhat unclear. My notes tell me that I enjoyed it. But were there really mussels in the purée? Was the whole thing served cold or hot? I can no longer tell, but I find the idea quite appealing, as it strays away from the traditional mussels-steamed-in-sauce or mussels-tossed-in-pasta that one usually encounters.
The salad part of the dish is straightforward, as I’m tossing the mussels with ingredients found again and again in Croatia: capers, red peppers, potatoes, herbs. On the other hand, making a tasty mixture of blended mussels proved quite tricky. I did make a mussel sabayon a long time ago (to go with my Crimean fishcakes) but this time I was looking for more subtle flavors and an airier texture. In the end, corn and saffron add some nuance, and Foam Magic™ Powder (a (blend of methylcellulose and xanthan gum that can be purchased from Modernist Pantry) adds, well, some foam magic. As plated here, the dish makes for a generous appetizer, but you could opt instead for a dainty little portion in a smaller bowl, to stay closer to the Pelegrini/Michelin experience.
Warm Adriatic mussel salad
Yields 2 servings
Total preparation: 1 hour 30 minutes
Active preparation: 1 hour
1.4 kg mussels
50 g white wine
20 g peeled shallot, sliced
4 g parsley sprigs
- Place the mussels in a pot with the wine, shallot, and parsley. Cover with a lid and cook over medium-high heat, shaking the pot regularly, for about 4 minutes, until all the mussel shells are open. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Take the mussels out of their shells, and debeard. Smell each and every one for freshness (I find that this is necessary for most of the mussels I buy). If some of the mussels are still closed, save them for last and cook them an extra minute. Discard the cooking liquid or reserve it for another recipe.
- You should have between 200 g and 250 g of cooked mussels.
140 g cooked mussels, all approximately the same size and color
12 g lemon juice
10 g olive oil
- Place the mussels in a bowl, and toss with the lemon juice and olive oil.
- Marinate for at least 1 hour. You can keep the mussels at room temperature if you plan to use them immediately; otherwise refrigerate them.
about 40 filaments (0.7 g) saffron
65 g heavy cream
45 g milk
100 g corn kernels
60 g cooked mussels
2 g Foam Magic™ (blend of methylcellulose and xanthan gum)
- Grind the saffron with a mortar and pestle, and transfer to a saucepan with the heavy cream and milk (you can rinse the mortar with the milk to ensure you collect every bit of ground saffron). Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Add the corn and mussels, cook for about a minute, then transfer to a blender with the Foam Magic™. Blend for one minute on high speed, and rectify the seasoning.
- Transfer to a one-liter siphon, and add two N2O cartridges, shaking well after each cartridge. Keep the siphon in a 50 C / 120 F water bath and proceed with assembly immediately.
1 small red bell pepper, about 200 g
8 g pine nuts
50 g peeled potato, small dice
8 g canola oil
10 g capers, drained on paper towels
marinated mussels, room temperature
3.5 g chives, finely sliced
0.5 g piment d’Espelette
2 pieces of French baguette
5 g extra virgin olive oil
- Place the red pepper on a cooling rack on top of a baking tray, and char with a blowtorch until black on all sides. Transfer to a plastic container, close with a lid, and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Toast the pine nuts in a pan over medium heat until they start to color. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.
- In the same pan, still over medium heat, sauté the potato brunoise with the canola oil, stirring regularly, until slightly colored on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
- Peel the pepper by rubbing it with paper towels. Slice open, and discard the core and seeds. Weigh 25 g of the pepper and cut into a brunoise. Reserve the rest for another recipe.
- In a saucepan, gently toss the red pepper, pine nuts, potato dice, capers, mussels (without the marinade), chives, and piment d’Espelette. Rectify the seasoning if needed. Heat over medium heat for a minute, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat.
- Toast the baguette in the olive oil in a pan over medium heat until golden brown.
- Siphon the mussel mousse into bowls, top with some mussel salad, and serve with the toasted baguette on the side.