I had been thinking of making a clam linguine but I didn’t have my pasta machine with me so put that idea on hold and went to the great fishmongers in Skerries. I have great confidence in Elora so I asked her to pick up something for lunch whilst I waited in the car. There were some beautiful mussels and monkfish so she bought these and they came home with us.
I had a think about what would be nice with these wonders of the sea and decided on spaghetti.
I put my Food Alchemists hat on a made a beautiful Tapenade of black olives, garlic, onion, lemon juice and top quality olive oil that we got as a present from our good friends Linda & Joe.
I blanched and skinned some plump vine tomatoes, cut them into concasse by removing the inner pulp and dicing the flesh. I then diced a medium courgette and set these aside for the sauce.
I chopped half a small onion into a fine dice and finely chopped a small bulb of garlic, the 1 piece variety. I then took the tomato pulp and threw these into a hot casserole pot smoking with fine olive oil. I cooked these out for a couple of minutes and added a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
A bottle of Lambrusco jumped into my hand and a third of it hit the aromatic flavours intensifying in the casserole. Once reduced I dumped 2 kilo of freshly cleaned mussels into the pot, stirred and topped it with a tight fitting lid.
Whilst this was happening I had a pot of boiling salted water and dropped in the spaghetti to cook to a hard al dente. Then refreshed it in cold water to stop the cooking and reserved it coated in olive oil.
The mussels had opened after 3 or so minutes and I poured them into a colander. Now the cooking liquor smelled and tasted amazing but it will have sand/grit from the mussels in it so I passed it through some muslin and a fine sieve.
The liquor was then put into a saucepan to rapidly boil down and intensify the flavours. Elora happily volunteered to pick the warm mussels from their shells and munched on a few and I remembered to reserve some shells for garnishing.
I then took the second skin off the Monkfish, it doesn’t eat well with it on and most places don’t take it off. The tail was then sliced into thick slivers of pure white,covered and refrigerated.
It was at this point I cleaned and sharpened one of my knives on the diamond steel and whilst talking to Elora I cleaned residue off the blade and cut through my left index finger. So a quick trip to the chemist later had me testing spray-on plaster, and its bloody good (excuse the pun).
Now back to the food.
I heated the now cleaned casserole pan and added some really good olive oil and got it hot. The mussel liquor sauce was put in a pan to heat up.
The courgette got thrown into the casserole first and cooked for a minute then the concasse tomato was added.
The hard al dente spaghetti was dropped into boiling water and the slices of Monkfish were added to the hot mussel liquor to poach.
After 1 minute I added the tapenade to the casserole and stirred it into the vegetables.
The mussels were then added to the poaching Monkfish and the heat turned off. Now the magic happens I drained the spaghetti and dropped it into the tapenade and stirred it through and added some of the mussel liquor. Then plated up the dish.
It tasted amazing I really mean it I was very happy with this and Elora ate like a piggy.