I figure it would be a shame to have learned such wonderful recipes from the paella workshop here in Valencia without sharing them! (Follow this link to see my introductory post on The Workshop.) As the title of this post suggests, this time around I’ll be sharing the recipe for the Valencian way to make clochinas (mussels). Check back later, though for the recipes for paella valenciana and sangria.
The recipe for clochinas is simple and quick to make, and requires only a few ingredients. The cliché “less is more” definitely applies here. With the clochinas, the goal is to add a couple carefully selected ingredients that will simply bring out and compliment the natural flavor of the mussels.
Before I share this mussels recipe, I just wanted to add in a little note about the mussels themselves. Clochinas are the smallish, warm-water muscles that grow exclusively in the warm Mediterranean waters of the Valencia region. They disappear pretty much as soon as it begins to get cold in late fall. In Spain’s colder waters, you can find a larger variety of mussels called mejillones. For this recipe, use whatever type of mussels are fresh and available to you where you live.
Ingredients: live mussels, lemon, garlic, paprika.
- Turn on the stove, allowing the burner to heat up while you clean the live mussels (you can tell whether or not they’re alive because if they are, their shells will be closed), pulling out the little hairs on at the rim of their shells.
- Put the mussels in a deep pot with a lid, and before closing the lid, throw in: a couple dashes of paprika; a couple cloves of garlic, cut into halves, and; some small, whole chunks of lemon. No need to add any liquids – the clochinas take care of that part for you!
- Mix around the mussels, paprika, lemon, and garlic until everything well-distributed. Put the lid on the pot, and let the muscles cook for a few minutes on a medium-high heat.
- Once a few minutes (3-5, depending upon how high a temperature you’ve set the burner to) have passed, open the lid and peek in at the mussels to see if they’re ready. Knowing whether or not they’re ready is blissfully simple, as the mark of a cooked mussel is that its shell has opened up.
- As soon as the mussels have opened, they’re ready to be eaten. Serve them with baguette slices, which are great to dip into the tasty mussel juice, produced as the mussels steamed in the pot with the garlic, lemon, and paprika. The empty clochina shells make great spoons for the mussel broth, by the way.