My friends came over for dinner this weekend and we made a seafood feast. Sarah and Luis started things off with Choros a la Chalaca, a fantastic appetizer that they adapted from La Vida Comida. This is such a delicious and surprisingly easy-to-make dish that everyone loved. We really couldn't stop eating it. The mussels are steamed perfectly in beer and then put on the half shell. Then they are topped with a spicy and acidic salsa that perks up your mouth with all those intense flavors. It makes your mouth water and gets you ready for dinner without filling you up. I could even serve this as a simple weeknight dinner for two with a crusty loaf of bread. You can adjust the level of spice that you like by swapping a jalapeno for the suggested habenero. I loved the full heat from the habenero that is tempered by the tomatoes and lime juice just enough to give the salsa a real kick without being overwhelming. Choros a la Chalaca (Peruvian mussels with spicy salsa)
2 lbs. mussels
1 cup beer (we used Dos Equis)
2 bay leaves
3-4 plum tomatoes (or 1 cup chopped tomatoes of your choosing)
1/2 cup cilantro
1 habenero pepper*
1 ear corn
salt and pepper
*Let me caution you...habeneros are no joke. Make sure to slice them fine and then thoroughly wash your hands and kitchen tools after handling the habenero. You do not want to get that in your eyes!
1. Wash and sort the mussels, discarding any that are open.
2. In a large pot, bring beer and bay leaf to a simmer over medium heat. Add the mussels and steam for 5 minutes or so, until the mussels have all opened.
3. Drain mussels and set aside to cool enough to handle. 4. To make the salsa, chop the onion as fine as you can and set in a bowl. Add coarsely chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and juice of 2 limes.
5. Carefully slice the hot pepper and finely as you can and add to the salsa. Stir thoroughly and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Test for seasoning and add more if needed.
6. Prep the slightly cooled mussels by removing the mussels from their shells and reserving on half of each shell. Lay the shells on a serving platter and place one mussel in each shell.
7. Top each mussels with a generous helping of salsa. Then sprinkle fresh corn on top.
Serve the platter as a fantastic appetizer for all of your very happy friends.
One Year Ago: Chewiest Oatmeal Butterscotchies with Sea Salt