Hispanic Kitchen

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Mejillones en Salsa Blanca (Mussels in White Sauce)

Just north of Portugal, Vigo in Spain is based along shores of the Atlantic Ocean. As host of the fourth largest fishing fleet in Spain, Vigo boasts of its abundant and very fresh seafood and offers it year-round.

Looking down the estuary in the town of Vigo, the most striking feature on the water in eyes view distance are what appears to be flat boats These boats serve as one part of a method in the Galician region of Spain to harvest mussels.

A system called “Batea” is the traditional technique for cultivating mussels. This providences and most notably the town of Vigo, produces about half of the entire production of mussels around the world. The “Batea” are rectangular floating rafts made from eucalyptus beams. Ropes hang down into the water, and the mussels are produced in these beds. Once they have reached their peak, the ropes are pulled up and they mussels harvested.

The mussels of Galicia's waters are considered having the best quality and they have been awarded a Denomination of Origin. Mussel dishes can be found throughout Spain and are one the least expensive items to purchase at the marketplace.

Now not wanting to sound like the character, Bubba in "Forrest Gump," describing his one hundred and ones recipes for shrimp, mussel dishes can actually match his boasts.

It is no surprise, that every region in Spain has their most popular recipe for mussels besides adding it to paella or serving it steamed.

The Galician mussel reigns and it is easy to understand why they are a favorite among nationals and other cultures worldwide. They also happen to be a personal favorite too. Since the chill has been lingering too long now, it is understandable that hot temp foods are still in order. The "Mussels in White Sauce" is similar to a cream soup and takes less then 30 minutes to prepare. You could also use this rich sauce over pasta or egg noodles.

Serves 4

2 lbs of mussels
1 cup white wine
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup of onion (chopped fine)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)
1 quart liquid from mussels (see preparation)
3 tbs of butter
1/3 cup of flour
4 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare the mussels:
1. Thoroughly clean the mussels remove and discard any shells that are open or broken.
2. Pour 1 or 2 cups of white wine or water into a large saucepan, add the mussels and cover the pan. The liquid from within the mussels will increase the amount in the pot.
3. Cook on a high heat and bring the liquid to the boil.
4. Reduce the heat and simmer the mussels until they begin to open. This should take about 5 minutes.
5. After several minutes, remove each mussel as it opens.
6. When all the mussels have opened, strain the liquid in the pot, and reserve the liquid
7. Remove the meat from the shells and place in a heat proof bowl.
8. Discard the shells any mussels that have not opened.

Directions for the sauce:

1. Add the onion and garlic to a pan over low heat with a little oil until soft and transparent. Remove from heat and leave to stand in covered pan.
2. Add butter to the onion and garlic and return to the stove and heat.
3. When the mixture boils, add the flour and continually stir to integrate.
4. Add the quart of cooking broth from the mussels and the cream.
5. Bring to a boil it until a smooth sauce is form.
6. Add pinch of salt, touch of nutmeg and pepper. Pour the sauce over the mussels and place under the broiler for 5 minutes to au gratin slightly before serving.



Other recipes by Veronica:

Swordfish Alicante Style
Torta de Nueces y Zanahorias (Carrot and Nut Cake)
Canelones Rellenos con Gambas
Pinchos de Gambas (Shrimp Skewers)
Sopa de Crema de Ajo (Cream of Garlic Soup)
Vieiras a la Gallega (Galician Scallops)
Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)
Albóndigas de Arroz y Espinaca (Rice and Spinach Meatballs)
Crema Catalana (Catalonian Custard)

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Tags: Galician, Spain, Vigo, batea, cream, mejillones, mussels, sauce, wine


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Comment by Lorraine Reimann on January 27, 2011 at 9:33pm

The story behind this recipe is one of the most interesting to date.  What a treat, you get background of the dish plus the recipe also...hats off to you Veronica...

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