A Belgian staple food.

A typical Belgian restaurant usually has three types of mussels on their menu: Nature, Garlic and White Wine. When this is done properly it is really good. The quality of the mussels make the dish and, as some argue, they don’t need anything more than the distinctive aroma of the sea mixed with some chopped onion and celery.

But this doesn’t mean we can’t add any other flavours at all! I mean, the Spanish do it with a Paella. The Turks stuff them with rice and sell them on the street and Koreans put them in beautiful stew called ‘Honghap Jjim’.

They all have one thing in common, they add spice. So that’s exactly what we’ll be doing here.

This recipe is based on a dish my grandmother used to make for the family called ‘Caldeirada’. A typical Portuguese fish stew with different kinds of fish and seafood depending on the region you’re in. I did not know this back then, all I know is we asked for it almost every time we went there for dinner. In fact, we all loved it so much and it accounted for so many memories that my dad decided to print the recipe on her memorial card when she passed a few years ago.

So this one is for you Grandma x

Ingredients for 5kg of Mussels:

  • 5kg Mussels, obviously (If you can find Bouchots, get them!)
  • 250gr of Spicy Chorizo, Portuguese or Spanish. Diced
  • 4 Red Onion, diced
  • 2 or 3 Chilies (adjust to your own tolerance)
  • As much Garlic as you can personally handle
  • Thyme and Oregano (Fresh or dried, you pick)
  • Some Tomato Paste, 1 or 2 spoons
  • 500gr of Waxy Potatoes, a variation is always nice. Diced
  • 500gr of good quality Plum Tomato, like a San Marzano. Diced and seeds reserved.
  • An entire bottle of DECENT, fruity wine. One that you would drink. So you might as well get a couple more for that reason exactly.
  • A big bunch of cilantro (Or flat leaf parsley for soap peoples)
  • A couple of French Baguettes
  • Rouille (Homemade if you can, good quality if you can't)


First of all, pour yourself a glass of wine for god’s sake.

Add the diced Chorizo to a medium pot over low heat and stir until the sausage has lost most of its oil. Fish out all the pieces and reserve.

In this fragrant oil stir in the onion and cook until translucent. Add the chili, thyme and oregano and stir.

Add the garlic, tomato seeds and tomato paste, crank the heat a bit and boil the mixture down until it begins to fry. A little caramelisation goes a long way.

Stir in the diced potatoes until very well combined and dump in the entire bottle of wine. While you bring the sauce to a boiling point there is time to take a sip and refill your glass.

If the sauce boiled for two minutes, take it off the heat and mix the chorizo back in together with diced tomatoes, a bunch of cilantro and a small amount of salt of pepper. The mussels themselves will add almost enough salt on their own.

Let the sauce cool down completely, even overnight in the fridge. This gives the flavours the chance to come together and it helps the potatoes too thicken to sauce a bit.

Add 1/5 of the sauce to a pot and add a kilo of clean mussels. Put the pot on high heat with a tight fitted lid and cook for six minutes. Stirring or shaking the pot from time to time.

When cooked, top the mussels with a lot of black pepper and cilantro and server with a warm french baguette drenched in rouille.

Enjoy x