Mussels a la Chalaca

  • 2 ears of corn or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 3 pounds mussels (see Note)
  • 2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and cut into small dice (about 3 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, cut into tiny dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into small dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ Serrano pepper, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Shuck the corn and remove as much of the corn silk as possible. Trim off the ends of the stalks so the ear can stand steadily on a cutting board. Stand the ear up and cut off the kernels. (Carefully, they have a tendency to fly all over the kitchen.)

Put the corn kernels, mussels, and ½ cup water in a wide deep skillet or Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil. Steam just until the mussels open up, 3 to 5 minutes.

While the mussels are steaming, toss the tomato, red onion, yellow pepper, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, chile, and lime juice together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

With a skimmer or wire spider, scoop the mussels and corn out of the skillet onto a large platter. Pour the tomato mixture over the mussels and toss gently to mix. Serve hot or room temperature.

Note: There are a few things to keep in mind when buying mussels. They should have shiny black shells which are tightly closed. (Or, if they’re open, should close and stay closed when the shell it tapped on a counter) Mussels should smell sweet and briny. Whether they are “cultivated” or wild-caught, mussels may have a little wiry growth, called the beard, which sticks out of the flat edge of the shell. Tug on the beards firmly to get rid of them before cooking the mussels.

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