¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced, fronds reserved
2 leeks, washed, white part only, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 strips orange rind
½ cup white wine
4 cups (1 litre) fish stock
440g tin tomatoes
1 pinch saffron threads
1 tsp sea salt & ¼ tsp pepper
2 kg mussels, de-bearded and cleaned
½ bunch parsley, leaves picked
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 whole red chilli, roughly chopped
1 red capsicum, roasted, peeled and deseeded
1 egg yolk
2 slices white bread, crusts removed, soaked in water and squeezed dry
½ tsp salt
½ cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
To serve: crusty bread
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add fennel and leeks and cook until soft, around 5 minutes. Add garlic, orange rind and cook 2 more minutes. Increase heat and add wine and allow to boil, then stock, tomatoes, saffron, salt and pepper. Return to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10–15 minutes.
2. Add mussels, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or just until mussels open. Check seasoning.
3. For the rouille: combine garlic, chilli and capsicum in food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add egg yolk, bread and salt and blend well. Add oil gradually with motor running so that sauce is thick and creamy.
TO SHARE: Transfer mussels to a large warm serving bowl from which your guests can serve themselves. Sprinkle with parsley and fennel fronds and serve immediately with crusty bread and bowl of rouille.
Wine match: Mussels traditionally call for a white, however, the powerful flavours in this dish (particularly the sauce) mean you need a wine with more power. The silky texture and mix of fruit and savoury notes in a Grenache Mataro would work brilliantly, while a Shiraz Cabernet is another elegant choice to pair with the spice of this dish.