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May 11, 2020

Asturian Shellfish

Asturian Shellfish

By Steven Spanbauer and from his foggy memory
4 servings as an appetizer, 2 servings as a main course / 20 minute preparation time & 10 minute cooking time  

  • 2 pounds of mussels or clams or both
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Spanish dry cider*
  • 1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste
  • Fresh chopped parsley, about 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons pimentón picante, aleppo pepper, or paprika (optional and to your taste)
  • FOR SERVING – a nice baguette, sliced and toasted if you have the time
  1. Scrub the shellfish under cold water, remove the beards from the mussels. Discard any clams or mussels that are open and do not close when you tap them gently against the side of your sink.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven large enough to hold all the shellfish. When the oil shimmers add the sliced garlic and saute until the garlic takes on a lightly toasted color about 1-2 minutes. Make sure not to burn the garlic.
  3. Add the pimentón and toast for about 10-20 seconds then add the shellfish and stir, turn the heat up to medium-high and add the cider, tomato paste, a pinch of salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper. Stir briskly and when the cider just comes to a boil, cover the dutch oven and turn the heat to low.
  4. Steam the shellfish for 2-3 minutes and check. If almost all of the shells have opened then they are done, if only half or less have opened, stir them and cover the dutch oven and cook for a few more minutes. They should be done after 5 minutes, any longer and they may lose their tenderness. Taste the sauce and add a touch more salt if needed.
  5. Pour the shellfish into a large bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and drizzle with a spicy, flavorful Spanish olive oil. Serve with bread (I prefer a grilled or lightly toasted bread like the picture below) to soak up the tasty broth.


Pretty simple preparation!

Basically all shellfish recipes like this are the same, you just change around some basic elements. The cooking liquid can be stock, wine, beer, or cider. Aromatics can be onions, shallots, garlic, or leeks. Added flavors can be curry, tomato, or fresh herbs. The fat can be added before and/or after and includes olive oil, butter, cream, and rendered bacon or aged sausages like Spanish chorizo or Portuguese linguiça. The key is to remember to keep it simple and have plenty of bread to soak up the sauce.

Use a mildly spicy dried pepper such as medium paprika or Aleppo pepper if you do not have pimentón picante on hand. 

Our recommended wine pairing would be Albariño such as Pazo de Señorans or Sal da Terra.

* Fine wine retailers should know of, or stock Spanish ciders. Asturian cider has a tendency to be drier and more precise while Basque cider can range in style from sweet to dry with varying levels of funkiness much like a farmhouse-style cider from Normandy.