Lately, I’ve had a hankering for seafood. I remember back before I knew that most things from the ocean were overfished and endangered, I used to eat it all the time. But these days, I feel guilty any time I walk past the fishmonger. Certainly, I don’t want to aid in the demise of Chilean sea bass or blue fin tuna or, well, just about any aquatic dweller, by wontonly cooking up their exploited flesh.
However, there’s good-ish news. Monterey Bay Aquarium publishes a pocket guide to sustainable seafood. They offer printable PDFs for each region of the country that you can carry with you to the fish shop. No matter where you live in the U.S., there are a couple of choices that are always on the best-choices category and one of them is a personal favorite of mine, especially this time of year: Mussels served with a chilled glass of (sustainably grown) white wine.
Below is my recipe for Confit Garlic Chimichurri that makes for an intriguingly smokey sauce when it mingles with the juices from the cooked mussels. The sauce is also great with just about everything, so keep a jar of it in your fridge all season long and break it out any time you feel like making mussels, grass-fed beef, or even zucchini.
Mussels With Confit Garlic Chimichurri
Serves 2 to 4
1 head garlic, peeled
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cilantro, plus additional for serving
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
2 pounds mussels
Place garlic cloves in a small saucepan with oil and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden and soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer garlic and oil to a blender and puree with cilantro, oregano, vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper.
Place water and mussels in a medium saucepan and pour chimichurri sauce over mussels. Cover saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until mussels have just opened wide, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cilantro and serve with crusty bread.