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little beauties
petit bouchon mussels

Small wonder that the Romans where so innovative when it came to transporting seafood from England, Brittany and Normandy to Rome. The transportation system was so sophisticated that they installed ice caves along the entire route to ensure the perfection of their product at its final destination in Rome. To appreciate just how advanced this thinking was, when I worked as governess on Mabel Creek Station just out of Coober Pedy in 1964, precisely that many years later, there was no refrigerated transport. Every week the ordered lettuce could be held aloft, drop its core and pour a trail of slime from its heart and sometimes I thought my boss Mary Rankin, a stupendous cook and great influence on my life would break down and cry with frustration and disappointment.

Spaghetti with Petit Bouchon
eggplant, chilli, peas and capsicum

serves 6, takes 5 minutes, prep time 10 minutes

200g eggplant (approximately 1 medium eggplant) cut into chunks and sprinkled with fine sea salt
100g EV olive oil
200g red onion, peeled weight finely sliced
15g garlic, peeled weight finely chopped
2 large hot chillies, finely sliced
sea salt
black pepper, freshly ground
500g red capsicum, cleaned, deveined and cut into chunks
500g jar Lucia’s Classic Napoletana Sauce, or fresh home made tomato sauce
200g green peas, shelled, finished weight approximately 100g
1kg Kinkawooka Petit Bouchon, drained and rinsed under cold running water
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
½ bunch continental parsley, washed, dried roughly stalked and chopped

500g quality spaghetti, cooked until just aldente in boiled salted water with a generous splash of EV olive oil – Martinelli (yellow bag) or Pastifico di Martino (cute long spaghetti blue, red and yellow traditional packaging) although we have noticed that the latter needs double the salt in the blanching water otherwise it tastes as if it has been cooked without salt.

Rinse the eggplant under cold running water. Pre heat a wok until it is very hot, add a generous splash of EV olive oil and add the eggplant tossing over until it is cooked. Add another splash of oil and add the onion, garlic and chilli, season well and cook tossing over constantly until they have lost all rawness. Add the capsicums, toss over and then add the Napoletana sauce. Bring to the boil and add the peas and mussels. Toss over and as soon as the sauce starts to boil again turn of the heat. Add the cherry tomatoes, stir through and cover with a lid. Set a timer for two minutes.
immediately the timer goes, mix through the hot spaghetti, taste and adjust the seasonings, add the parsley and serve immediately.

To start with if you have “mussel experience” and approach these tiny sweet mussels in the same way as you might other larger mussels you’ll end up with tough little bullets. With the larger mussels you might shock them open with a searing hot wok a little of your best EV olive oil and white wine and then start to make the sauce, with the Petit Bouchon you need to make the sauce first, drop the petit Bouchon in the boiling sauce, toss over from one minute and immediately remove from the heat. Continue to stir over until they are open (2 minutes max) and serve immediately. Yes, real fast food!

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