Mussels éclade, fennel and saffron rouille

Mussels éclade, fennel and saffron rouille

By
From
Finding Fire
Serves
4

The name éclade is thought to be a derivative of aiguillade (from the French aiguille: needle), referring to the hundreds of dried pine needles used to cook the mussels for this dish. Pine needles burn intensely for a brief period, just long enough to cook the mussels while infusing them with a smoky woody sweetness.

For this dish it is important that the mussels are positioned vertically on a board, hinge upwards. Four nails are often hammered halfway into the centre of a board as a supporting structure. The mussels are then tightly arranged against each other, and spiralling out from the centre, to stop them opening when cooking. While the careful arrangement of mussels may be an involved process, the pyrotechnic spectacle is almost as satisfying as eating them.

This is finger food at its best, served with a fennel and saffron rouille into which each mussel is dipped as it is picked from the shell.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2kg live mussels, cleaned (see note)

For the fennel and saffron rouille

Quantity Ingredient
100ml milk
1 x 1g packet saffron threads
60g cooked potato flesh
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 egg yolks
180ml fruit, mild extra-virgin olive oil, such as arbequina or koroneiki
sea salt
1/2 bunch fennel fronds, finely chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. 1. To arrange the mussels on your board, start in the centre using the nails as props. Position each mussel so that its shell hinge is facing upwards. This is so that the mussels do not fill with ash as they cook.
  2. 2. Pile the pine needles on top of the mussels, ensuring that the mussels are completely covered to a depth of at least 20 cm (8 in).
  3. 3. Prepare the rouille. In a saucepan, bring the milk and saffron to the boil, then remove from the heat. Pass the potato and garlic through a fine sieve and place in a food processor with the egg yolks. Blend, gradually adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Add the warm saffron milk, check the seasoning and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the chopped fennel fronds and the lemon juice and zest and combine well.
  4. 4. When you are ready to eat, set light to the pine needles and stand back, as they will catch and burn with an intense flame. The fire will eventually run out of fuel and the flames will extinguish themselves, leaving the mussels with a light covering of ash.
  5. 5. The shells will be hot, so allow them to cool slightly before handling. Allow guests to prise the mussels from their shells, dip in the rouille and devour.

NOTE

  • To prepare the mussels, discard any that are chipped, broken or damaged in any way. Tap to check that the mussels are tightly closed, discarding any that are open.

    If necessary, remove the beard (or byssus thread), which is what attached the mussel to the rope or rock it grew on, and scrub clean. Soak in salted water for 30 minutes to purge any remaining impurities. Remove the mussels and rinse in fresh water before cooking.
Tags:
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again