We are in the midst of Seattle Restaurant Week and one of our dishes for our first course options is Mussel Escabeche with a garbanzo purée.
Escabeches are foods that have been cooked through steaming or frying and then marinated and stored in a mild pickling brine. This technique had been used for centuries as a way of preserving foods before the days of refrigeration. Escabeches work well with a variety of ingredients from poultry to seafood.
I have always been pretty fond of this preparation of mussels because it is a nice change up from the common bowl of steamed mussels you often find on menus. Usually served cold or at room temperature, these mussels take on a smoky flavor from the Spanish pimentón that compliment the mouth-puckering sensation from the vinegar. The liquid is so good that you can use it as a vinaigrette on some greens to brighten the dish. The garbanzo purée makes for the perfect foil to the escabeche as it adds some creaminess and subtle flavors to balance out the composed dish.
To make mussel escabeche, clean and debeard a couple pounds of mussels. Steam the mussels with some white wine and water and remove from pan right when the mussels start to open up. Discard any unopened mussels. Let mussels cool. Then remove mussels from their shell and discard shells.
In a pot, heat up olive oil with smashes garlic cloves over medium heat. When the oil starts to simmer and the garlic starts to brown, add aromatics (black peppercorns and bay leaves) and let flavors infuse for about 5 minutes. Drop the heat to low and then add pimentón and your vinegar very slowly (Equal parts vinegar to olive oil). It is important to let oil cool a little bit because the vinegar will cause the oil to spatter. When all of the vinegar is added , let marinade cook for another 5 minute then take off heat.
Add the steamed mussels and let marinade cool. The mussels and marinade can then be served cold or be brought up to room temperature. Serve on a toothpick as a small pintxo or use in a salad and enjoy!!