Mussels Carbonara – a pescetarian version of the classic Italian dish made with plump sustainable mussels and fresh linguine coated in a light sauce infused with the taste of the sea.
This little quick-cook dish is like a happy and contented marriage between two enduring, time-honoured recipes. The quintessential French moules meniere and the ever-popular Italian pasta carbonara.
Although the french might not be too thrilled about anybody messing with their moules meniere by adding in pasta, I reckon the Italians would probably be ok with me swapping out the bacon.
And it’s bacon that’s the key flavour in any carbonara recipe. Traditionally it’s guanciale (cured pig’s cheek) that’s used, but I’m betting most people use pancetta, I know I do.
Both of these cuts of pork are unsmoked, but they are cured, and if you’re looking for a similar salty kick then mussels are the ideal fishy replacement.
Mussels are filter feeders and it’s the reason for their innate saltiness. They feed by opening up and syphoning seawater through their systems catching any little plankton that happen to be floating by.
It’s also why they’re the number 1 sustainable seafood on the planet because unlike other forms of aquaculture they don’t need to be fed (I’m looking at you salmon and shrimp) With the added benefit that they leave the water in a cleaner state than they found it.
Mussels are now farmed worldwide because of their low impact and when it comes to sustainability and the environment it’s one seafood you don’t have to worry about and should definitely be eating more of.