When it comes to seafood and summertime I think the two are a lovely combination. There is a legendary rule about “months with an R” but that means nothing to me. Whether crawfish, jalea or surimi, when I want seafood there is always a way (notice surimi comes in freezer-friendly vacuum-packed blocks, really good for adding to salads).
Since Lesli does not really enjoy seafood, and I prefer not to have shells all over the floor, most times I get my fix at a restaurant. The cost adds up quickly, though, so I savor the times when someone else (ahem, my favorite Peruvian chef) is cooking seafood and I can be in the kitchen.
One of my favorite magical dishes is choros a la chalaca. When explaining to non-Latinos, I usually say it compares to ceviche made in a mussel shell. A beautiful presentation for choros (or choritos, if the mussels are small), is to serve them with boiled yuca. You pick up a mussel, the juices drip back on your plate and add flavor to the yuca.
I am sharing below, Daisy Martinez’s recipe for Choros a La Chalaca. You can find more recipes from Daisy here and here. What I like best about Daisy’s cooking, is she simplifies things. If you watch her YouTube channel, you’ll be smiling while you work in the kitchen. I highly recommend her mofongo recipe video!
Mussels a la Chalaca
- 2 ears of corn or 1 cup
frozen corn kernels
- 3 pounds
mussels (see note)
- 2 large (about 1 pound)
- about 3 cups diced
- 1 small, about 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cup
yellow bell pepper
- 1/4 cup
- 2 tablespoons
- 2 large cloves minced
- 1/2 minced
- juice of 1
- kosher sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Shuck the corn and remove as much of the corn silk as possible. Trim off the ends of the stalks so the ear can stand steadily on a cutting board. Stand the ear up and cut off the kernels. (Carefully, they have a tendency to fly all over the kitchen.)
- Put the corn kernels, mussels, and ½ cup water in a wide deep skillet or Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil. Steam just until the mussels open up, 3 to 5 minutes.
- While the mussels are steaming, toss the tomato, red onion, yellow pepper, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, chile, and lime juice together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- With a skimmer or wire spider, scoop the mussels and corn out of the skillet onto a large platter. Pour the tomato mixture over the mussels and toss gently to mix. Serve hot or room temperature.
- Note: There are a few things to keep in mind when buying mussels. They should have shiny black shells which are tightly closed. (Or, if they’re open, should close and stay closed when the shell is tapped on a counter) Mussels should smell sweet and briny. Whether they are “cultivated” or wild-caught, mussels may have a little wiry growth, called the beard, which sticks out of the flat edge of the shell. Tug on the beards firmly to get rid of them before cooking the mussels.
Each week on Sabroso Saturday MsLatina tries to get us to share healthy, budget-friendly recipes. She writes a post each week at her site – then other bloggers add links to their recipes. If it all works out, we might even have enough recipes for a whole meal, start to finish.