A couple of weeks ago, I bought some cookbooks (I finally caved in!) and have been eager to test out some recipes or find inspiration from the recipes in the books. One of the books that I purchased was Chef Brian Malarkey‘s Come Early Stay Late and it is a beautiful book with photographs of each dish (yay!). I would recommend buying this book if you are into cookbooks. We’ve been to 2 of his 5 restaurants in San Diego, and have had nothing but delectable experiences. Searsucker and Gingham are a couple of our favorite San Diego restaurants. We make sure to eat there especially on restaurant week! Maybe you have seen Chef Malarkey on the new reality cooking show The Taste or on Top Chef Miami (season 3 in 2007)? Anyways, if you haven’t heard of him, I’m telling you that his food gives you a happy feeling like a beam of sunshine. Well, that’s how I feel!
One of these days, we’ll have to check out his Asian-influenced restaurant called Burlap as one of their top dishes there is Mussels Adobo. I was proud to read about the popularity of the dish and proud that people are enjoying dishes inspired by Filipino cuisine. There is actually a Filipino mussels adobo dish which in Tagalog is called “adobong tahong.” Seeing the mussels adobo recipe in the cookbook inspired me to explore my family’s recipe with a restaurant-style touch from the Burlap version. My parents also gave us some half shell green mussels–thanks! So here is my version of mussels adobo with potatoes.
Here are some of the ingredients, besides the oil, mussels and potatoes: sliced onion, garlic, tomato, jalapeño (deseeded if desired), butter, parsley (garnish), white vinegar, coconut milk (I used light, but regular is fine too), tamari (or soy sauce), and black pepper.
This is a relatively quick dish in which you first sauté the aromatics, which are the onion, garlic, ginger (if using), and jalapeños. You just want to get them to become soft. While cooking the mussels you can roast your potatoes or have them already done. Set those aside when ready to assemble the dish.
Then add the mussels, seasonings, and liquid ingredients to steam. Toss them around so that the mussels are enveloped in all the flavors. Be careful not to overcook, though. Steam them until the mussels open, about 5 minutes, and discard any that remain closed. Or use frozen half shell mussels and steam until heated through. Also, bay leaves are a staple in Filipino adobo. You can leave them out if you want.
Then you take out the cooked mussels and reduce the sauce. Here the sauce is reducing with some chopped tomatoes. In my family, we use tomatoes in our adobo because it gives another dimension of flavor. It seems to tie in the sour and salty notes of the dish with a bit of sweetness. After the sauce has reduced about half way then mix in the coconut milk. Reduce a little more to get a thickened sauce and then swirl in the butter, if using. Not so hard at all! You could put the mussels and the roasted potatoes back into the pan and serve it that way, or assemble it in layers, as I prefer.
Bottom layer is half of the mussels, then top with half of the roasted potatoes. Pour some sauce on top of that layer and then layer on the remaining mussels. Top with the remaining potatoes and the remaining sauce. Sprinkle on some parsley if you want. To finish, serve with bread or with some rice. You pick! Either rice or crusty bread can sop up the yummy sauce.
Mussels Adobo with Potatoes
adapted from Come Early Stay Late
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 medium sized russet potatoes, sliced
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/inch piece of ginger, julienned (optional)
- 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, sliced (optional)
- 2 pounds Mussels, cleaned and beards removed
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari)
- dash of white wine, (optional)
- 3/4 cup-1 cup water
- 2-3 pcs. bay leaf
- 1/4 cup roma tomato, chopped
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
- parsley, chopped (optional garnish)
- Roasting the Potatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil. Toss the potatoes in another 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and season with salt & pepper to taste. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes over and bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown. Set aside.
- In a large pan, heat the cooking oil on medium and sauté onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeños until softened and they have become fragrant.
- Stir in the mussels and make sure to coat them in with the onion mixture.
- Add in vinegar, soy sauce, white wine, water, and bay leaves. Stir and cover with a lid. Steam the mussels until they have opened or if frozen, until heated through. Transfer the mussels to another container, cover and keep them warm.
- Add the chopped tomato to the cooking liquid and reduce by half. Check for seasoning and add more black pepper if needed. Add the coconut milk and reduce further, until the liquid has thickened. Stir in the butter.
- Assembly: In a serving vessel, place half of the mussels on the bottom and then a layer of roasted potatoes. Pour half of the sauce. Place the remaining mussels on top and layer on the remaining potatoes. Pour remaining sauce and garnish with parsley. Serve with crusty bread or rice and enjoy!
This was a really nice tasting adobo. The coconut milk was subtle. I think it is because I used light coconut milk. Perhaps the regular coconut milk would give the dish a stronger coconut flavor. Anyways, we were happy with the balance of flavor here. It was my first time making a version of adobong tahong and was surprised by how good it was, in fact! So glad that I tried this dish and thank you again to my parents for giving us these mussels!
If you are looking for a new seafood dish to try or for those of you practicing Lent and need a no-fuss Friday dish, this could fit the bill! It was soooo good! Seriously, a spectacular seafood comfort dish. Give it a try!
- America’s Test Kitchen, Holy Snafu! (likeitiz.wordpress.com)
- Sous Chef Series: Kevin Luzande’s Chicken Adobo (williams-sonoma.com)
- Filipino Adobo (letthembelittle.typepad.com)
- Coconut curry mussels (theglobeandmail.com)