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Drunken Mussels & Spicy Chorizo

The days keep getting longer and repetitive; we might as well enjoy some spirits, not just in drinks but also in the food that we prepare. The usual take on drunken mussels is with white wine and lemon, which is of course a fine pairing as it is, but to spice it up, chorizo contributes a whole new depth of flavour.

Salt isn't needed in this recipe because we already have cooking sake, which has plenty of sodium, and also distinguishes it from sake for drinking. Cooking sake can tenderise and enhance the flavour of the sausages, and can neutralise any remaining traces of brininess from the mussels.

In case you don't have cooking sake in your pantry, you can replace this with rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar, which should give it a similar sweetness and light acidity that cuts through the fats and mineral deposits from the molluscs.

You can also blend different kinds of vinegar if you want to experiment, as I did, by adding a bit more white wine vinegar with the cooking sake, to give the overall taste a bit more complexity.

After a second attempt at this, I am reminded of the basic tenet of quality provisions, something you should never scrimp on -- the food we cook, prepare and eat go inside our bodies after all. Sure, it's easy to find mussels and chorizo anywhere, but find a good seafood supplier that already cleans the shells for you (unless you want to do this yourself). I like the seafood from Wild Caught PH; the name explains it all, and so far, the seafood supply from them do not disappoint. The mussels are cleaned, vacuum-packed, delivered quickly and have a sweet and milky taste.

For sausages, check out Schroeder's Deli: it has a good selection and the chorizos were everything I had in mind for this dish -- well-cured ground meat in generous fillings of paprika, which added harmony to the dish and counterbalanced the marine flavour. As I preferred a bit more spice, a sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper and red pepper flakes amplified the taste of the chorizos and the acidity of the vinegar.

I was so pleased with the result and honestly think that drunken mussels & spicy chorizo should be the new it couple in food pairings, like macaroni & cheese, or burger & fries, or fried chicken & gravy. Mop the sauce with toasted focaccia slices, or leftover chunks from that knead-less bread you made previously. Pour a glass of chilled rosé or a cold sparkling water with a slice of lemon, and you're all set.


Cooking time: 18 minutes

Serves: 4-5


2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 sausages, preferably chorizo, sliced into small coins

500 grams mussels

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato, diced

2 tablespoons cooking sake or apple cider vinegar

2.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar or dry white wine

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped

1. In a stockpot, heat a tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of olive oil in medium heat. Cook sausages until brown on all sides. Add onions and cook until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Look at these glorious golden coins! While cooking, the chorizo should be "sweating" off its paprika seasoning, which will combine with the butter and olive oil.

2. Add mussels, garlic and a tablespoon of butter. Toss to combine with the buttered sausages. Pour in cooking sake and white wine vinegar. Cover pot and cook until mussels open, about 10 minutes.

3. While mussels are cooking, toss in tomatoes, and sprinkle black pepper, red pepper flakes and parsley. Stir in, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn off heat. Scoop liquid to coat the mussels. Transfer to a large bowl and serve with bread for dipping.

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