Tigres (Stuffed Mussels)
Origin: Bilbao, the Basque Country
The Basque Country is one of the most famous Spanish regions for its simply yet super tasty cuisine. These Stuffed Mussles are a perfect example of this as this recipe uses simple ingredients to create a dish with big flavour. Although a little fiddly to make, the effort will definitely be worth it.
Mejillones Rellenos, as they are known in Spanish are usually found in Bilbao to the North of Spain where fresh seafood and shell fish are in constant supply. This Spanish dish is often served as a tapa with a spicy tomato and anchovy sauce which has led to the dish becoming known as 'tigres', which those of you who have ever taken Spanish classes in Spain will know, means 'tigers' because they are so fiery in their taste.
If you ever visit Spain, and Bilbao in particular, you will find this dish in the more traditional bars where plates of dozens and dozens of these Spanish stuffed mussels emerge from small kitchens. It is not uncommon in such settings to find people simply discarding the empty shells onto the floor, which are then cleaned up later. However, if you are serving this dish at home, it might be a good idea to provide your diners with an empty bowl in the middle of the table rather than having to go round and clear up the mess afterwards.
As with all shell fish dishes, make sure that you wash the shells thoroughly and follow the golden rules of cooking shell fish. Before you cook them, throw away any mussels that are already open. Yet when you finish cooking them, get rid of any of the mussels whose shells remain closed. Also, don't forget to ask if any of your guests are allergic to seafood!
Tigres (Mejillones Rellenos) | Stuffed Mussles
- 18 mussels, scrubbed well and beards removed
- 3 tbsps water
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tbsp onion, minced
- 2 tbsps flour
- 3 tbsps white wine
- ½ cup mussel stock (you will make this in the cooking process)
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp of water
- 4 tbsps fine dry breadcrumbs
- Olive oil for frying
- Makes 18 pieces
- Steam open the mussels by placing them in a deep saucepan full of water. Cover the pan and place over a high hear and cook until the shells open. Remove the pan from the heat and throw away any of the mussels that do not open.
- OR you can do this in the microwave. Put the mussels into a microwave safe bowl and cover partially. Microwave the bowl at full power for one minute. Stir the contents of the bowl and then microwave for a further minute. Discard any mussels that have not opened their shells.
- Once the mussels have cooled sufficiently so that you can handle them, start removing and discarding the halves of the shells which are empty. Loosen the meat of the mussels from the bottom shell and then arrange the mussels in their shells on a tray. Strain the mussel water and keep to one side.
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and then fry the minced onion until it goes soft but do not let it go brown. Stir in the flow and cook for a minute stirring frequently. To this, add the wine and mussel liquid and mix well. Cook this mixture, stirring constantly, until it thickens and is of a smooth consistency.
- Put a spoonful of the white sauce into each mussel and smooth it down so that it is level with the top of the shell.
- Place the tray of filled mussels into the fridge until the sauce is firmly set which should take at least an hour.
- Place the beaten egg into one dish and the breadcrumbs in another dish. Then dip each mussel, open side down into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs to coat that side. Arrange the dipped mussels onto a tray. At this point you can then freeze the mussels if you want to eat them at a later date. When you come to cook them, allow them to defrost for at least an hour before continuing with the rest of the recipe.
- To cook the mussels, heat up enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan. Fry the mussels in two or three separate batches, placing the breaded side down and frying until they turn golden brown.
- Drain the mussels slightly with paper towels and then serve hot.