Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Through a Bowl, Darkly: Garlicky Mussels with Squid Ink Linguine

I was binge watching Hannibal when I got the idea for this dish. I have always been drawn to fiction that intelligently explores the dark side of human nature and the allure of so-called "evil." Visually the show is lush and cinematic, and Mads Mikkelsen, the actor who plays Hannibal, is a brilliantly unsettling mix of charm, charisma, and creepiness.

I must admit that I take a perverse glee in the lovingly detailed shots of Hannibal cooking complicated Escoffier-style meals in his gourmet kitchen, knowing full well that the main course is more than likely composed of one or more of his victims. (Yes, Poppa Trix has told me I'm a bit crazy, but in a good way. He's not worried, so you shouldn't be either.)

I hope it goes without saying that I never had any intention of featuring any people in my mussels and linguine dish, but I did have visions of a moody, dark, mysterious, and sexy plate of all-black food. I did not, I believe, succeed in that; instead, I think the presentation turned out to be  rather more rustic than sinister.

Ah, well - what really matters is the flavor, yes? And in that I did succeed. I think it's best to keep it simple with a dish like this, and so that's what I did.

Garlicky Mussels with Squid Ink Linguine

3 dozen mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
pinch of saffron threads
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
white pepper, to taste
1 package squid ink linguine

Prepare the squid ink linguine to al dente in well salted boiling water. Save 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Steam the mussels in 1/2 cup of the wine and one of the sliced garlic cloves in a large covered pot until they open (6 - 7 minutes). Meanwhile, saute the shallots in butter over medium heat in a sautoir until translucent. Add the garlic; stir for a couple of minutes. Turn up the heat and add the remaining wine, simmer until reduced by half. Add the reserved pasta water, the saffron, and the pasta. Stir to coat. Add the mussels along with their cooking liquid, a pinch of white pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the pot. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. 

This summer I've been invited to be a "Perfect Protein Blogger" to help spread the word about sustainable fish and seafood, as discussed in the new Perfect Protein book by Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless. As such, I'm sharing my sustainable seafood recipes, like this mussels dish,  here on Tasty Trix. To see what other bloggers have created, follow #perfectprotein on Twitter. 


  1. All it needs is a nice Chiante! (I thought I would say that before anybody else did.) The delightfully appealing, charismatic garnish masks the darkness beneath..which of course is Hannibal. So yes, you hit the mark exactly with this dish of yours. And I do enjoy eating mussels. But you knew that...

  2. I'm totally feeling this dish!

  3. There is something devilishly beguiling about squid ink pasta (its also great tossed with sweet corn and some herbs).

    I think that if a platter of this showed up at my dinner table, I would walk off with the platter and not allow anyone else to have any. Seriously...

  4. Heh, I like the title of this post. What a dark beauty this dish is!

  5. I recently did a moules recipe myself. I am glad to see someone else chucking the unnecessary "R" rule! GREG

  6. This looks and sounds amazing, and Hannibal sounds like a show I would love. I've always been drawn to the dark side of things myself. If you haven't done so yet watch The Killing (seasons 1-2 on netflix). It sucked me in and warped my miiiind.

  7. That guy who plays Hannibal is scary. He creeped m0e out when he was up against James Bond, and he continues to do so on the small screen. He really is a good actor.

    This is one gorgeous dish, Trix. Even though I don't eat anything from the sea, I can appreciate its beauty. Nice work! About the denizens of the deep - who knows why? My mom said that one night at dinner I pushed the halibut away, and that was the end of that, and just one more step on the road to Adri the Picky Eater. Kids are weird.

  8. I haven't seen the show but it sounds really interesting. Your mussels are making me drool -- I can eat a whole pot of them myself. Love your photos and recipe.