Provincetown chef Howard Mitcham was admired throughout Cape Cod for his culinary skills and his personality. Though Anthony Bourdain never met the Mississippi-born chef, artist, and poet, he picked up a copy of his Provincetown Seafood Cookbook when he was a young cook at Mario’s in Provincetown. Mitcham’s cookbook, a love letter to Provincetown and its fishing families, features several seafood classics, among them mussels mariniere. First published in 1975, Provincetown Seafood Cookbook eventually went out of print, but earlier this year it was rereleased with an introduction by Bourdain. Here’s the legendary chef’s recipe for mussels mariniere.
¼ cup olive oil
2 scallions and their green leaves, chopped
¼ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup green pepper, chopped
1 small tomato, diced
2 tablespoons parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup molho tomate (tomato sauce)
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup fish stock
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the scallions, onions, green pepper, tomato, parsley, and garlic. Sauté and stir for 3 minutes and add the molho tomate, wine, and fish stock.
Clean, scrub, and test the mussels. Place them in the sauce in the skillet and stir them around well. Cover the skillet tightly and cook until all the mussel shells are open. Discard as suspicious any whose shells do not open. The mussel liquor will add sparkle to the sauce.
Preheat a large 1-quart soup bowl and place the opened mussels in it. Ladle the sauce over them. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve at once with garlic bread.
While eating these, the diner should always pluck out the little byssus, or “beard,” inside the folds of the mussel’s mantle.
A good Graves wine, lightly chilled, goes beautifully with moules marinière.
Excerpted from Howard Mitcham’s Provincetown Seafood Cookbook (Seven Stories Press, 2018) with a new introduction by Anthony Bourdain.