We use Kinkawooka mussels, harvested sustainably in Port Lincoln, South Australia, cooking them in a lovely rich and saucy tomato broth. If you're really hungry and want to trick the dish up more, you can add pieces of snapper, flathead or blue eyed cod to the sauce at the first sign of the mussels opening. The dish is also lovely with pasta - cook 250 grams of your favourite variety and add it to the sauce a minute or two before serving.
4 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled and roughly chopped
2 red onions, roughly chopped
2 long red chillies, finely sliced
1/2 a fennel bulb, roughly chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
400g tin crushed tomatoes
150ml red wine
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
2kg black mussels
½ bunch basil, roughly chopped
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 lemon, finely zested and juiced
Use a large, heavy-set pot, preferably cast iron. Put it on high heat and add the oil, garlic, onions, chilli and fennel.
Cook until the onions start to become slightly translucent. Add the fresh and crushed tomatoes, red wine and balsamic vinegar. Add pepper to taste and a pinch or two of salt – bear in mind the mussels will still have salty sea water in them.
Cook on a high heat until the sauce thickens. The fennel should be soft and the fresh tomatoes should be broken down.
Add the mussels and about 50 millilitres of the liquid from the mussel bag, and cover the pot. At the first sign of the mussels opening – start checking them from about four minutes – add the fresh herbs.
Continue cooking on a high heat for 2-3 minutes or until all the mussels have opened.
Just before serving, add the lemon zest and juice. To serve, put the pot at the centre of the table, drop a ladle in and let everyone help themselves.
Serve with doozy garlic bread