(makes 2 appetizer servings)
1lb of fresh mussels, shucked
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 ripe medium-sized tomatoes
(or 1 Tbsp. of tomato paste diluted in 1/2 cup of water)
2 Tbsp. of dried Greek oregano
1 hot banana pepper
1/3 cup of crumbled Feta cheese
1. Rinse your mussels under cold tap water. If any mussels are broken, discard them and if you see any slightly open, gently tap them. If they close, they are alive and if not – then they are dead and therefore you must also discard them. Pull the beards from the mussels and brush off any barnacles that may be on the shell surface. Rinse under cold water and place in a strainer (with a plate) underneath and store in the fridge for up to 1 day.
2. When you are ready to cook your mussels, place them in a bowl with water and a little bit of flour. The mussels are alive, will breath and any sand they spit out will adhere to the flour and sink to the bottom of the bowl. After 30 minutes, rinse the mussels and reserve.
3. Place a skillet on your stove-top over high heat and add the olive oil and the mussels. Cover and allow the mussels to steam. They will release their own liquid and steam open after 3-5 minutes. Remove the mussels from the heat and allow to cool a bit so you can safely shuck the mussel meat.
4. Pluck the mussel meat out of the their shells and reserve some mussels in their shells for presentation. Discard any mussels that did not open and reserve your mussel meat and the juices (liqueur).
5. In the same skillet over high heat, add the liqueur back in along with the grated tomatoes (or tomato paste diluted in water) and slices of hot banana pepper. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer until your sauce has thickened to a loose sauce.
6. Add your mussels and gently stir in. Allow them to warm in the sauce for a couple of minutes. Now add your crumbled Feta and dried Greek oregano and plate in two serving dishes.
7. Serve immediately with lots of crusty bread, sip on some Ouzo or Tsipouro and be transported to a seaside taverna in Greece.