Impepata di cozze (Peppered Mussels)

Impepata di cozze (Peppered Mussels)

In antipasti, Campania, secondi piatti by Frank20 Comments

Here’s a recipe that’s so simple you could call it a non-recipe: impepata di cozze, or Peppered Mussels. To make this  Neapolitan classic, you simply steam mussels in their own juices with nothing but generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper. Garnish them, if you like, with some chopped parsley and lemon wedges. And that’s it. No oil and garlic base, as as some recipes erroneously call for—which would make this a delicious but different dish, sauté di cozze—or any other flavorings. You shouldn’t even need salt, as the mussels themselves should be quite briny enough. It’s the ne plus ultra of pure, simple flavor. It may sound plain, but if your mussels are of good quality and your pepper fresh and aromatic, it is exquisite eating.

Peppered Mussels are usually classified as an antipasto, but they make a fine light main course as well.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 1-2 kilos (2-3 lbs) mussels
  • Freshly ground pepper

To serve (optional):

  • Finely chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

Rinse the mussels well. (Most mussels sold these days don’t require any special preparation, but see notes below.)

Place the still dripping mussels in a pot large enough to hold them all with room to spare. Grind over them generous amounts of black pepper. Cover and turn the heat on high. Let the mussels steam in their own juices, shaking the pot with the cover on from time to time. (If the pot is too large or heavy for shaking, then open the lid and mix them with a wooden spoon or spatula.)

After about five minutes or so, open the pot and check on the mussels. As soon as all the mussels have opened, serve up your Peppered Mussels, either in the same pot they’ve cooked in or in a warmed serving bowl. Garnish them, if you like with another generous grinding of black pepper, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and lemon wedges on the side.

Notes on Peppered Mussels

It practically goes without saying, but the success of your Peppered Mussels will depend entirely on the quality and freshness of your mussels, so go to  a source you trust implicitly. If they’re fresh, mussels should not smell fishy at all, but have a clean, briny aroma. They should look bright and clean, and should closed, unbroken shells.

In the old days, mussels were picked off rock on the shoreline. Most mussels these days, at least in North America, are ‘farmed’: grown on a rope that is dangled in sea water. Farmed mussels tend not to have as much taste the those picked in the wild, but they have the great advantage of not needing any special preparation. The best in North America are said to come from Prince Edward Island (or PEI for short) off the eastern coast of Canada between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Wild mussels have filaments called a ‘beard’ by which they were attached to the rocks; these need to be trimmed away with a paring knife. Wild mussels can be sandy as well, and should be soaked in cold water for at least 30 minutes to purge them.

Either way, since mussels are highly perishable, you should check your mussels before you cook them—if they are unusually heavy or don’t close when you touch them, discard them. (Discard also any mussels that fail to open after 5-7 minutes of cooking.) Always cook mussels the same day you buy them, and store them in the fridge as soon as you get home from the market.

Impepata di cozze (Peppered Mussels)

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Impepata di cozze (Peppered Mussels)

Ingredients

  • 1-2 kilos (2-3 lbs) mussels
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • To serve (optional):
  • Finely chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges

Instructions

  1. Rinse the mussels well. (Most mussels sold these days don't require any special preparation, but see notes below.)
  2. Place the mussels in a pot large enough to hold them all with room to spare. Grind over them generous amounts of black pepper. Cover and turn the heat on high. Let the mussels steam in their own juices, shaking the pot with the cover on from time to time. (If the pot is too large or heavy for shaking, then open the lid and mix them with a wooden spoon or spatula.)
  3. After about five minutes or so, open the pot and check on the mussels. As soon as all the mussels have opened, serve up your Peppered Mussels, either in the same pot they've cooked in or in a warmed serving bowl. Garnish them, if you like with another generous grinding of black pepper, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and lemon wedges on the side.
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Comments

  1. Absolutely awesome! I made them for my husband and it was a hit!! I love your blog and look forward to seeing what’s next. I just love your blog and have nominated you for a Creative Blogger award. There are five rules: Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog, Share five facts about yourself, Nominate five bloggers and add their links, Notify the bloggers you included and Keep the rules in your post. Check out my post and hope to see you nominate along!:)
    karenskitchen.wordpress.com

  2. yes indeed, nothing better than the simple things in life. Hope your holidays are filled with good times, good food and memorial memories Frank. Merry Christmas to you and yours… Good blessing this coming year

  3. This looks so beautiful – part of the beauty is its simplicity, but so much of it is the grace you bring to all you do. Bravo, amico!

  4. I’ve never had them without some sort of soupy base (sometimes I wonder if I like the mussel broths better than the mussels). This is a delicious way to find out!

  5. Pingback: Peppered Mussels - Impepata di cozze | Food - R...

  6. è un piatto di una semplicità infinita ma dal sapore eccezionale! Qui a Trieste le cozze le chiamiamo “pedoci” , siamo fortunati,abbiamo gli allevamenti di cozze “le pedocere” proprio nel golfo, praticamente sono a km 0 !Buon weekend Frank !

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