Mussels with Latin flavors

This dish was originally inspired by the Mediterranean, but forcibly took a detour into Mexico when I could not find the right kind of chorizo and just went with it from there. Going to school in Boston, you come to love shellfish and seafood. I love eating and cooking mussels, because they plump up in whatever you cook them in, and they have a beautiful brine, or liqueur, that just adds another depth of umami into a broth or liquid. And by Latin flavors, I really mean Mexican chorizo, coconut, lime, and corn. Pretty Latin, right?

So for the dish, it is mussels with a coconut-chorizo-lime broth, braised corn, and corn-black pepper crackers to dip into the soup. The crackers themselves were a hybrid between a corn tortilla and a Sardinian flatbread called pane carasau. Like I said, this was originally going to be a Mediterranean dish before I could not find Spanish chorizo. Just a little fun fact, the main differences between Spanish and Mexico chorizo include: Spanish chorizo is like a sausage with an edible case, whereas Mexico chorizo is in a plastic, inedible casing, and is basically liquid. So they work really differently, and that was something I did not exactly know myself going into making this dish, one lonely night for dinner. While I made the dish for myself, it is a generous portion, definitely enough for two, and it is a great dish to make in the summer (or year round in places where seasons don’t actually exist… I’m looking at you, California).

Serves enough mussels for two:
1 1/2 pounds mussels; beards removed and rinsed in warm salt water
1 ear of corn; shucked and silk removed
1 cup Mexican chorizo; casing removed
1/4 cup thinly diced shallots
2 cups coconut water, not milk
1 lime’s worth of juice
2 cloves of garlic; peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon lime zest
oil

Remove the corn from the cob. In a pot, combine the coconut water, lime juice, and corn cob and bring to a simmer. In a pan, sweat out the shallots and garlic in the oil on medium heat. Add in the spices and corn and continue to cook on low heat for 1 minute. Add in the chorizo and continue to cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds so that the chorizo doesn’t burn. After 5 minutes, add in some of the corn-coconut-lime liquid to deglaze the pan, and add in the mussels. Pour in the remaining liquid, making sure to remove the cob, and cover. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the mussels begin to open. Remove the mussels from the pot as they open, and continue reducing the liquid until it is reduced by about half before tossing back in the mussels to finish.

For the corn-black pepper cracker
1/3 cup corn powder
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup water

Combine ingredients together and form into a dough. Split the dough into 2 smaller pieces. Roll out one of the pieces as thin as possibly onto a parchment sheet and bake in the oven at 475 degrees F for 12 minutes, then flip the dough, and continue baking again for another 4 minutes. Repeat this process with the other piece.

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