1.2 kgmussels, scrubbed To serve:rock salt (optional)To serve:purslane leaves (see note) Saffron vinaigrette250 mldry white wine80 ml (⅓ cup)white wine vinegar ½ tspsaffron threads2 tspcaster sugar80 ml (⅓ cup)extra-virgin olive oil
For saffron vinaigrette, simmer wine, vinegar and saffron in a saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced by two-thirds (12-15 minutes), remove from heat, stir in sugar to dissolve, season to taste, whisk in olive oil and cool to room temperature.
Heat a large saucepan over high heat until very hot (1-2 minutes), add mussels, cover with a glass lid and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until mussels just open (3-5 minutes; remove cooked mussels with tongs as they open).
Remove mussels from shells, toss in saffron vinaigrette and season to taste. Clean half the mussel shells, place a mussel in each, drizzle with a little extra saffron vinaigrette and serve on a bed of rock salt, scattered with purslane.
Note Purslane is available from select greengrocers; it may need to be ordered ahead.
This recipe is from the May 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
"Pick good, heavy mussels. If it's a light mussel it's probably been out of the water a bit longer. If you can't get purslane, you could use iceberg lettuce cut into chiffonade. That's got sort of the same freshness and watery crunch." At The Apollo, Barthelmess cooks the mussels over the woodfired grill; you could cook them on a woodfired barbecue instead of in a saucepan.