Barcelona Mussels Recipe – It was 1959 and I was in the Coast Guard on a ship headed from Brooklyn to Naples. After 7 days at sea we had gone through the Straits of Gibraltar and docked in Barcelona, Spain.
Some of us were given liberty and didn’t have to report back until muster the following morning. I had made friends with a few of the crew that were my age and rank so we teamed up and hit the streets.
The first thing that we did was to find an exchange and got Spanish money to fund our adventures. I held out a ten dollar bill to the guy at the counter and he looked at me like I was nuts. I indicated “yeah” and was given more Spanish cash than I had pockets for. I wound up stashing some in my socks and even in my underwear. I still had some leftover even after all of our shenanigans.
One of the guys was portuguese from Newark and another was puerto rican from Manhattan. They were our interpreters,, kinda.
We did everything that young sailors would be expected to do, and more, after a week at sea. But, back to the Barcelona mussels recipe.
We went to this local restaurant that was just opening up for the evening. As soon as they saw us they got an “oh shit” look on their faces and started pushing some tables together for us.
We sat down and while we were trying to understand the menu the waiter – without asking – poured us all some red wine. Wow, it was good!
Then he came back with our “tapas” aka appetizer. It was this Barcelona Mussels Recipe and, again, wow, IT was good too! They served it in a big bowl with a couple of big spoons. We each were given our own small soup bowls to get our share.
And, a big plate of hot crusty bread for dipping.
I made it the other night and of course it reminded me of my visit to Barcelona and I started recounting it again for Gammy.
She rolled her eyes and said, “Jack, I’ve heard all about that already.”
Anyway, here goes.
About the mussels. We can’t get any good fresh ones here in the Austin area so we just go with these cleaned, cooked and frozen ones that are found in the local grocery store.
Add the chopped onion and stir to get it spread out and stir it a few more times as it cooks.
When the onion has become translucent – about 5 minutes – add the chopped garlic and cook for just a minute or so. Don’t let the garlic get brown. Then the tomatoes, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika and red wine (or white wine or chicken broth).
Mix it all together, turn the heat up to medium high and bring it up to a simmer,
When the the liquids have reduced a little put in the mussels. Stir everything together and stir again a few times as the mussels heat up – about 6-8 minutes. If you are using fresh mussels just cook them until they open up and throw away any that don’t open.
In Spain it is almost always served with rice and sometimes with pasta. The Italian in me kicked in and I opted for some pasta with mine and some spinach and tomato salad with feta cheese and a little loaf of Poppop’s easy homemade bread for dipping and some Spanish Tempranillo red wine.
Altogether we had a super, quick and easy weeknight dinner with this Barcelona Mussels Recipe.