Monday 28 July 2008

Mussels, Samphire, Sage and Chilli Oil with Tagliatelle

The mussels from Northumberland at this time of the year are outstanding. Plump, juicy and lightly fragranced from the sea that they are grown in, they are one of my favourite cheap and fast eats.

When I buy mussels, all I want to do with them is cook them quickly in nothing more than a glass of cider or wine, perhaps a handful of fresh herbs throw in, then eat with bread and butter. This is my personal treat, one that I can indulge myself with for no reason at all. Their taste is unique, quite hard to describe but one to savour, a true taste of the sea. Their texture is light, fluffy and melting. Unless you cook them for too long of course.

Sage is not a herb I would associate with shellfish too much but with a large sage bush in the garden not being used too much, I guessed an intense sage oil, injected with a bit of chilli heat, might be a flavour that the mussels could benefit from. With some tomatoes from the weekly organic bag, simply roasted whole and squashed with a fork, it all came together with fresh local samphire and tagliatelle to make for a very clean tasting, fresh and memorable tea. Flex your mussels.

Mussels, Samphire, Sage and Chilli Oil with Tagliatelle

Feeds 2

6 tomatoes
4 handfuls of mussels, de-bearded and cleaned
1 small glass of cider, white wine or water
2 handfuls of samphire
25g butter
8 rounds of dried tagliatelle

For the oil
A handful of sage
1 dried or fresh birds eye chilli, seeds removed
2 tbsp olive oil
A squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C, GM4. Cut a cross into the base of the tomatoes. Place into a baking tray and drizzle on a little oil. Bake for 20-30 minutes until softened and starting to colour. Pinch off the skins then mash the flesh roughly in a bowl.
2 - Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the tagliatelle and cook for 7-8 minutes.
3 - Whilst the pasta is cooking, make the sage oil. In a pestle and mortar, grind together the sage and chilli with a pinch of salt and pepper to form a green paste. Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning.
4 - Heat up another pan with a lid. Add the mussels then pour in your liquid of choice. Put on the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the shells have opened. Discard any that remain shut. Throw in the samphire and butter and leave to sit with the lid on for 1 minute.
5 - When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pan. Tip in the roasted tomato flesh, mussels and samphire. Combine then serve into bowls.
6 - Drizzle with the sage oil and serve with some sage leaves crisped in a little olive oil.


Peter M said...

David, you guys are surrounded by the sea and it's astonishing that seafood isn't more prominent there.

I could see sage being used in mussels and you're prodding me to get me some mussels today too!

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

David, a very nice dish. Are shellfish popular in the UK? I know fish (especially fried fish) is quite popular but is there a great demand for shellfish generally? Here in canada, shellfish are generally quite popular.

Chef Jeena said...

Sounds wonderful David. I see that you love to eat your sea food, you always make it look and sound so delicious and very tempting.

Aimée said...

Thanks for a brilliant sage recipe, my plant is out of control. Wait, so is my whole garden!

Jan said...

I would never have thought of using sage on mussels, (on the rare occasions that I ever come across them). Good idea! Your recipe sounds simple, but super good.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Mussels and samphire? You got me right there...

Have never thought to use sage with mussels, though. Chilli or chilli oil, yes. Sage, no. I'm going to have to try...

Chef JP said...

First time visitor to your blog. Wonderful stuff. Huzzah!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

This is one seriously sophisticated dish of mussels, David. You've inspired me to try preparing them in a new way. Thanks!

Laura Paterson said...

I just came over here purely because of your lime + chilli butter comment on Val's blog... and I'm glad I did! This is a great recipe... I'm bookmarking it for when the Brighton mussels are back in season proper!!

(Though our samphire will have passed by then - I wonder if I could freeze some?!)

Abitofafoodie said...

I cooked samphire for the first time last week and was really pleased with the result - I'd only ever had it occasionally in restaurants before. I'm sadly allergic to shellfish, but I've got a similarly large sage bush and am keen for ideas for using it up. I might try your oil with some kind of fish..

Cynthia said...

Y'all are lucky. We don't get such fare in these parts unless it's in the frozen and imported.

Unknown said...

Mussels! An ultimate tapa of all time here in Andalucia, thanks for the recipe, might insist that one on the local chef..

Anonymous said...

Hi David, Mmmm, mussels - a true taste of the sea indeed. I would not have thought to use sage with mussels either but when you said 'sage oil' it immediately started to sound better and definitely with the chilli. I've got some sage on my balcony so I'll give it a try. Although the sage isn't looking too healthy at the moment - is your sage in full sun? I can't work out what's wrong with it.


Anonymous said...

Love mussels........ lovely idea!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Wonderful once again David. I hope you are enjoying your time in France. When you get back I have passed something along to you.

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