Every Thursday afternoon and every Saturday morning the producer of coquillage – shellfish – comes to the village from Bouzigues on the Bassin de Thau, a salt-water lagoon about 30 kilometres away, to sell mussels, oysters, whelks and clams, so we eat mussels (mainly, because they are cheaper than the others and so delicious) at least once a week. Now that the rain has stopped, today seemed a good time to cook them over a wood and charcoal fire in the open air in the garden for lunch.
We made a tomato sauce, on the gas hob in the kitchen, with onions, garlic, chopped chorizo, red wine and tomato purée made last summer from our own tomatoes. After the fire was lit and going well we put the cleaned mussels (about 500 grams per person) with a few sprigs of thyme into a pan over the fire – I use a Spanish sartén honda, a bit like a paella pan but deeper – and steamed them in their own juices until they were all open.
Once all the mussels had opened we drained the liquid from them, added the tomato sauce and left the pan on the heat for a few minutes to heat through.
Then it’s ready to serve, sprinkled with some chopped garlic and fresh herbs – I picked some oregano from the herb bed next to the barbecue – and accompanied by some fresh bread and a glass of red wine.
There’s another version of mussels with chorizo, but without tomato, on my recipe blog, Food from the Mediterranean.