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Recipe categories: Appetizers, Fish and shellfish | All categories

Giuseppe's mussels in sambuca

Giuseppe's mussels in sambuca
Ricardo DeAratanha / L.A. Times

Dear SOS: Giuseppi's in Pismo Beach is a wonderful Italian restaurant popular with locals and tourists. The menu changes regularly to feature seasonal dishes. A couple of months ago, I ordered mussels in sambuca from the appetizer menu. It was delicious. There are only a few ingredients in it, besides fennel and sambuca. I would like to know the proportions so I could repeat this tasty dish. Could you get the recipe?

Carolyn Ziegler-Davenport

Pine Mountain Club, Calif.

Dear Carolyn: Chef Giuseppe DiFronzo was happy to share his recipe for this simple dish. Mussels are steamed in an flavorful blend of fresh fennel, garlic, leeks, cream and white sambuca, the anise-flavored Italian liqueur. He recommends serving the mussels alongside plenty of crusty Italian bread and a cold glass of Vermentino or Albarino.

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Total time: 35 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from a recipe by Giuseppe DiFronzo, of Giuseppe's Cucina Italiana in Pismo Beach and Palazzo Giuseppe of San Luis Obispo.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 leek, white portion only, julienned
  • 2 pounds mussels, preferably Mediterranean, scrubbed clean
  • 1 ounce white sambuca
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fennel, preferably wild
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch chile flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Step 1In a wide pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and leek and sauté until aromatic. Stir in the mussels, tossing quickly with the hot oil.

Step 2Add the sambuca, scraping any flavoring from the base of the pot, then stir in the fennel, clam juice and cream.

Step 3Cover and steam the mussels until they open, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the chile flakes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Each of 6 servings:
Calories 311; Protein 19 grams; Carbohydrates 11 grams; Fiber 0; Fat 20 grams; Saturated fat 7 grams; Cholesterol 71 mg; Sugar 3 grams; Sodium 531 mg
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