Who’s in the mood for sea breeze and fresh fish? Here’s a recipe you can’t miss!
Impepata di cozze (mussel soup) is a traditional Neapolitan dish that used to be prepared during Holy Week, particularly on the afternoon of Thursday or Good Friday. Indeed, on those days, the citizens of Naples used to take a walk, the so-called ‘struscio‘, to visit the sepulchers set up in the churches, but also to show off their pompous dresses and socialize. And what could be better than a fresh plate of mussels to prepare oneself at full force for the long walk and chats among fellow townsfolk?
Well, don’t worry, you can prepare this delicious dish even if you weren’t planning to go for a walk, but simply because we made you crave it!
We know that you are just waiting for the recipe to turn on the cooker and give it your best, but… you’ll have to wait a little longer because first we want to tell you a very interesting trivia about how this plate originated! Stay tuned, the wait will make you crave the taste even more!’
‘A ‘mpepata e cozze‘ was created in the 18th century at the behest of Ferdinand I of Bourbon, King of Naples. He was very greedy and was crazy about fish, but during Holy Week, a Dominican priest warned him to limit his voracity.
He then, who did not want to renounce his love of shellfish, decided to modify the sumptuous recipe with mussels he had invented, the so-called cozzeche dint’ ‘a connola (‘mussels in the cradle’), i.e. a large tomato filled with mussels and a fine mixture with plenty of seasoning. He replaced it with a lean recipe with few ingredients, but one of his favourites: a simple mussels’ soup with strong pepper sauce and pepper.
Well, who can blame dear King Ferdinand? When it comes to food, we all sin by gluttony, but certain delicacies we just can’t resist… and he had a great trick to balance duty and pleasure!
It is often referred to as a poor recipe because it actually has few ingredients, but mussels were an expensive product, so the dish, very tasty, spread throughout the city and its surroundings, but was revisited by the poorer people who replaced the mussels with snails.
Finally the moment you have been waiting for has arrived: here is the simple and yummy recipe of the Impepata di cozze!
Today the traditional recipe has been simplified even more, the ingredients are just mussels, evo oil, parsley, garlic, pepper and, if desired, lemon juice. First of all, you have to clean the mussels thoroughly, brown the oil and garlic in a pan and then add the mussels, cooking them until they open. Oh, remember: those that do not open should not be forced open but discarded, it means that the fruit inside is still alive or rotten. Once ready, add pepper and parsley and if you want lemon juice. Serve the dish hot with toasted bread: you cannot miss the “scarpetta”!
This meal is perfect for many occasions and can be served either as a starter or as a second course: if you want something quick and easy but with a refined taste, you won’t go wrong!
There are several variations of this recipe, like the one that follows the original procedure but adds clams and white wine, to make everything more complete and tastier. Or there are those who, as we did, add tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes, to make the sauce even more tasty and perfect for soaking bread inside. Believe us, it’s really mouth-watering!
A last special version is the cozze alla tarantina, beloved by the Apulian. The basic preparation is always the same, but you cook sauce or tomato pulp, which is then added to the sauce of mussels along with chili. So they become a complete dish that will make you imagine you are on the beach in front of a blue sea!
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So, it’s time for seafood and for trying this delight, which you must accompany with a delicate white wine: have we not convinced you now? Hurry and uncork the bottle!