This is what I eat a lot of while I’m in Puglia – una pepata di cozze. Sometimes spelled impepata or ‘mpepata – “peppered” mussels, I think an alternative translation is steamed mussels, prepared with and garlic, and yes, pepper.
Quick and easy, only a few ingredients and one pot are needed to make this meal, and very little prep aside from the cleaning and soaking of the mussels. It can also be cheap since mussels are only a few euro for a kilo here in Italy. I’ve done this dish back in Milan as well, though without the salty sea air the experience does wane a bit. I love eating a pepata di cozze on the beach at lunch.
Pepata di Cozze – Steamed Mussels
a few cloves of garlic
1 kilo of mussels
pepper, freshly ground
flat-leaf parsley (optional)
small tomatoes (optional)
white wine (optional)
- Prepare the mussels if they haven’t been cleaned – soak them, scrub them well and remove the beard (step-by-step directions on cleaning mussels) and rinse them.
- Get a large, deep cooking pot you have a lid for (glass is best so you can see in), and heat several tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic cloves and sauté until they start to brown.
- At this point, you can also add in a glass of white wine or the tomatoes if desired, and heat that back up to a fast simmer before the next step.
- Add the drained mussels to the pot, and close the lid on top. In 4-5 minutes all the mussels should have opened – if not, turn up the heat a bit and put the lid back on for a few more minutes. Depending on how many mussels / size of pot / etc it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
- Take the pot off the heat (and turn off), and add the chopped up parsley and ground pepper. Discard any unopened mussels.
- Serve in soup bowls and toast pieces of bread to serve at the bottom of the bowl or on the side.
The aftermath of pepata di cozze.