There is nothing more rewarding than cooking for the family on a sunny day with fresh and high quality Mediterranean products. Have a handy glass of Rioja wine while cooking and enjoy the process.
Slow cooking is like tantric sex, there’s no hurry in getting the sofrito done; patience is the key, steaming the mussels with low heat will make them get their best flavor, simple ingredients when preparing the fish stock… forget about pressure cookers, precooked mussels, canned fried tomatoes, frozen seafood… Enjoy every step of the process, take your time to get the best out of every produce, let the ingredients get their own climax… Should I invite Sting for this casserole? ;D He would surely appreciate the method!
Take your basket and go to one of your city markets, look for the freshest mussels and crayfish at the fishmonger, and ask the vegetable’s seller for the most outstanding peppers, onions, and tomatoes; go home and get ready to prepare the best week’s meal for your family.
Ingredients for 4 servings: 300 grs. of Spanish noodles (number 4), 8 fresh crayfish, 35 fresh mussels (aprox), 1 cup of grated ripe tomatoes, 1 medium onion, 1 green pepper, mineral water (less than 1 litter), extra virgin olive oil and salt. For the picada: 1 nyora (dried red small pepper), 10 grs. of dry toasted bread, 1 garlic clove, 10 toasted hazelnuts, a few parsley leaves.
- Pour some olive oil in the casserole (enough to slightly cover the surface). Salt the crayfish and fry at medium heat for just 1 minute while moving with a wooden spatula. Reserve.
- In the same oil, add the onion (cut in small dices) and when transparent add the pepper (cut in small dices too). When it softens add the tomato and a pinch of salt. Let the sofrito cook at low heat until the tomato loses its water and the sauce thickens up. Reserve.
- Start the picada: boil the nyora cut in half for half a minute. Take the meat inside it and place into the mortar, add the hazelnuts, the bread, the garlic and the parsley. Smash and add a pinch of salt and a bit of olive oil. Reserve.
- Steam the mussels with a bit of mineral water and when they open up strain reserving the water and placing the mussels in a plate discarding one of their valves.
- Pour the mussels water inside a pot and add mineral water until it makes a litter. Bring to boil and then keep it hot.
- Back to the casserole, heat the sofrito and add the boiling water (maybe you don’t need the whole litter, just add 3/4 to start with), then pour the noodles inside and mix with the wooden spatula. Follow cooking instructions for the noodles, mine took 5 minutes.
- 3 minutes before the noodles are done, pour the picada and mix. When there’s only 1 minute left, add the crayfish and the mussels. Chop a bit more of parsley leaves and sprinkle over the casserole. Cover the casserole with a lid and let it rest in the counter outside the heat for 3 minutes. The noodles will absorb the rest of the stock and they will have a delicious seafood aroma and taste. Don’t add more salt because the mussels water it’s already salty.