Chilli smoked mussels with aïoli & pickled shallot

Chilli smoked mussels with aïoli & pickled shallot

Chris Middleton

I love mussels, pickled shallots and aïoli, so this dish is a no‑brainer. The smoking adds another dimension to the sweet mussels. Such a good snack or starter.


Quantity Ingredient
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 french shallot, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1kg mussels, hairy beards removed, scrubbed well
wood chips, for smoking
snipped coriander cress, to garnish
Aïoli, to serve

Pickled shallots

Quantity Ingredient
4 french shallots, sliced into thin rounds using a mandoline
1 teaspoon sea salt
125ml chardonnay vinegar
55g sugar

Chilli paste

Quantity Ingredient
50ml olive oil
2 long red chillies, halved and seeded, flesh side grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
2cm knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated


  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Now add the mussels, stir and cover. Let the mussels steam in their own juices for 2 minutes, or until they have all opened. Discard any that haven’t opened.
  2. Strain the mussels and place them on a tray to cool down.
  3. For the pickled shallots

    Toss the shallots with the salt in a non-reactive heatproof bowl. Bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil, then pour over the shallots. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool. Strain the shallots and set aside. Keep in an airtight container until required; the pickled shallots will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  4. For the chilli paste

    Heat the olive oil in a small non-stick sauté pan over low heat. Add the chilli, garlic, ginger and a pinch of sea salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until the mixture has lost its raw taste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. (The chilli paste can be made a day ahead.)
  5. To smoke the mussels

    Heat the wood chips in a smoker or kettle barbecue until they start to smoke. (Alternatively, line the bottom of an old wok or saucepan with foil, place your wood chips on the foil and heat over a high gas flame until smoking.)
  6. Remove the mussels from their shells and check for any beards you may have missed. Mix the mussels with the chilli paste and place on a rack that will fit into your smoking device. Reduce the heat to low, cover and leave to smoke for 30–40 minutes, depending on how smoked you’d like the mussels. Remove from the smoker and allow to cool.
  7. To serve

    Arrange the mussels on a plate and scatter with the pickled shallot and coriander cress. Serve the aïoli in a bowl on the side for dipping.
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