Mussels Triestina
Cozze alla Triestina

serves: Serves 4 to 6

This is my favorite way to eat mussels. It is how we cook them in Trieste and the surrounding area. Prepare this only when the mussels are super-fresh, and you will taste the sea in your mouth, made all velvety by the bread crumbs. I love dunking the crusty bread in the sauce. If there are any leftovers, remove the mussels from the shells and return them to the sauce; tomorrow you’ll have a great pasta-with-mussels dish.

6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large onion, slices should be 1/2 thick
3 fresh bay leaves (or 4 dried bay leaves)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepperonicino flakes
2 cups dry white wine
3 pounds mussels, soaked and scrubbed clean
1 cup chopped scallions
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup dry bread crumbs


Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sliced garlic, and cook until garlic is sizzling and just golden around the edges, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the bay leaves and salt. Push the vegetables aside and make a dry “hot spot,” then add the pepperoncino and let it toast for a minute. Pour the white wine into the pot. Bring to a boil, and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Once the wine has reduced, add the mussels and scallions. Stir, and adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering. Cover, and simmer until the mussels open, about 5 minutes.

Most of the mussels should have opened (discard any that have not). Sprinkle with the parsley and bread crumbs. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and toss well. Transfer the mussels to a serving bowl, and pour the juices over the top. Serve immediately.