Fennel Mussels with Piquillo Rouille


1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. fish stock or clam broth
large pinch saffron threads
one 1/4-inch thick slice of peasant bread, crust removed
1 large egg yolk
1 jarred piquillo pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
cayenne pepper

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 heads of fennel, cored and diced, plus 1/4 c. chopped fronds
1 med. onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 c. Pernod or absinthe
1 1/4 c. fish stock or clam broth
4 lb. mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. chopped parsley


  1. Make the rouille: In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 2 tbsp. of the fish stock at high power.  Crumble in the saffron and let cool.  In a large bowl, soften the bread in the remaining 1/4 c. of fish stock.
  2. In a food processor, puree the soaked bread, egg yolk, piquillo, garlic, and lemon juice until smooth.  With the machine on, slowly pour in 1/4 c. of the oil and the saffron fish stock.  Slowly pour in the remaining 1/4 c. of oil.  Season with cayenne and salt.
  3. Prepare the mussels: In a large pot, heat the oil.  Add the diced fennel, onion, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 7 minutes.  Add the red pepper and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the Pernod and boil over high heat for 2 minutes.  Add the fish stock and bring to a boil.  Add the mussels, cover and cook, shaking the pot, until they open, 5 minutes.  Pile the mussels in a bowl; discard any that don’t open.  Stir the butter into the broth, add the fennel fronds and parsley; season with salt.  Pour the broth over the mussels and serve with the rouille.

Food and Wine, April 2010


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