If you’ve visited Thessaloniki and the nearby Halkidiki, you likely will have enjoyed mussels saganaki. This dish is a specialty of the region where mussels are served in two-handles vessel, a wonderful appetizer on all seafood tavernas in the area.
The most common versions are a tomato based mussels saganaki with a touch of got peppers, crumbled Feta and Greek oregano. The other is similar but with a mustard base. Both equally delicious and they beg for crusty bread to be dunked in the soup-like sauce that comes with the plump mussel meat.
Today, I’m making another version – one that uses the base elements of mussels saganaki – with a twist. Here, I’m introducing wasabi paste into the mix. It’s another way of adding some heat to the dish and it worked!
There’s sweet red peppers and mussel meat, rich Greek olive oil and tart mustard with sharp wasabi paste. Wasabi is related to horseradish and the good stuff is freshly grated at finer sushi bars but the pre-made tubes of wasabi paste are more common and that’s what I’m using here.
Another interesting surprise here is that Feta cheese and wasabi work well together and I loved this dish. By and large sticking to the traditional mussels saganaki and switching one the ingredients (hot peppers) and introducing wasabi. I recommend adding 1-2 Tbsp. of the paste but if you want it even hotter….squeeze away!
Wasabi Mussels Saganaki
(makes an appetizer for 4)
2lbs. of live mussels, scrubbed, de-bearded, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 diced red pepper
1-2 Tbsp. wasabi paste
1 Tbsp. plain mustard
1/3 dry white wine
1 cup of crumbled Feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/4 sliced scallion greens
- Place a large pot on your stove-top over medium heat with the olive oil, onions, peppers and garlic and sweat for 5-6 minutes.
- Add the wasabi, mussels, mustard, wine and turn the heat to high and cover. Steam until the mussels have opened up (about 5-6 minutes). Pour the mussels through a strainer (to remove any sediment) and reserve the mussels (and any vegetables). Place the liquid back in the pot and add the crumbled Feta and stir for a minute or two over low heat. Your sauce should just coat a wooden spoon (You may at this time remove the mussel meat from the shells if you wish).
- Add the mussels back into the pot along with the dried Greek oregano, parsley and stir to incorporate. Discard any un-opened mussels. Top with scallions and serve with crusty bread and pour some Ouzo on ice. Kali Orexi!
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