Mussels and Tofu in Sweet Smoked Paprika Sauce
I grew up observing the Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. I know that many Catholics observe this. To make it a little easier for those who do, I'll be sharing this non-meat (by meat, I only mean beef, chicken, and pork... fish and seafood are not included) recipe.
This is a very easy to prepare mussel dish which I came up from the simple ingredients I have in the refrigerator. For this, I used the sweet smoked paprika that I got because I didn't want it to be too strong. I must say it worked really well on this dish. It was just an experiment, but since it came out well, I want to share it with you.
You see, I am a fan of paprika... I like how it adds color and flavor to fish, shrimp, and meat. But let me tell you that in choosing the paprika for your dish, you should consider what kind of flavor you want for it. You should decide first whether you want it sweet or hot, mild or pungent, and from there you can choose the paprika variety you prefer.
*Note: If starting with raw whole mussels, bring a pot of water to boil over high heat and blanch them just until the shells open. Drain and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the top halves of the shells, leaving the meat in the bottom half.
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- Two 4-ounce pieces firm tofu, cut into 1-inch-thick strips
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 medium-sized onion, minced
- 24 frozen blanched mussels in half shells, thawed*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 3/4 cups water
- 2 jalapeños, seeded and sliced into rings
- 5 scallions, cut on a bias into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, for garnish
- Steamed rice, for serving
Heat the vegetable oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Test with a small piece of tofu; the oil should sizzle when ready. Fry the tofu strips in 2 batches until they are golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per batch. Drain and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, ginger, and onion until the onion is almost translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the mussels and sauté until the juices start to emerge.
Add the salt and pepper and mix well. Cover and simmer until the mussels are fully cooked, about 3-5 minutes. With tongs, transfer the mussels to a plate, leaving the sauce in the pan.
Add the flour to the sauce, stirring until the sauce thickens. Add the paprika and stir. Slowly add the water and continue to stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the tofu, jalapeños, and scallions.
Mix well to combine and simmer for 1 more minute. Put the mussels back into the pan and mix well until covered with sauce. Remove from heat. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with parsley flakes. Serve with steamed rice.