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Recipe: Open-faced rye bread sandwich with pickled mussels

Open-faced rye bread sandwich with pickled mussels, ricotta and fried shallots (Haan Palcu-Chang)

In 2010 I went to cook in Copenhagen. I spent a year and half working as chef de partie in two different Michelin-starred restaurants: Kiin Kiin and Kokkeriet. It was a formative time for me. I learned about the character-building value of 16-hour days. I learned about professionalism, sacrifice and dedication to your craft.

Outside of these takeaways from my time in Scandinavia, I also acquired a great fondness for pickled fish. Overall, I was never really into Nordic food – it lacks the sophistication, diversity and technique of the Asian food I grew up with – but there was something appealing about how they preserve fish up there. It’s full of flavour and packs a real punch.

This dish is an homage to Danish open-faced sandwiches and the predilection in those parts of Europe to combine seafood with dairy. The mussels can be prepared up to one and a half weeks ahead, but no less than the day before serving.

  • Servings: Serves 4-5 as an appetizer

Open-faced rye bread sandwich with pickled mussels, ricotta and fried shallots

Water

Salt

2 pounds fresh mussels

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

3 whole peppercorns

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon dry white wine

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4-8 slices Scandinavian style rye bread

1/3-2/3 cups ricotta

Maldon salt

1/3 cup fried shallots (bought in Asian grocery or made at home)

1 Green onion, finely sliced

1) Heat water in a large pot large enough to fit mussels. Bring to a rolling boil. Add salt until water tastes like the sea. Add mussels. When the mussels open, strain and let sit in colander for 5-10 minutes.

2) In the meantime, place garlic, peppercorns, wine, vinegar, paprika and olive oil in a non-reactive pan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat. Simmer for 5 mins. Set aside.

3) Take the mussels out of the shell. Put them into a mason jar or other suitably sized container. Pour over pickling liquid and put in fridge until ready to use.

When mussels are ready, toast bread in a toaster or under the broiler until crisp but still chewy.

Spoon ricotta on pieces of bread. Sprinkle with some maldon salt.

3) Spoon mussels over the ricotta, being careful to not include too much of the liquid. Sprinkle with shallots. Garnish with scallion slices. Serve immediately.

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