If there’s anything that gets me more in a party mood it’s these suckers right here: delectable morsels of spicy bivalve goodness– the kind you can’t seem to stop feeding your face with. This is one of my dad’s (many) famous and prized Peruvian dishes, one that gained a permanent spot in all our family outdoor parties. Paired with an icy cold ale, this is the ultimate party starter.
And when executed correctly with just the right ratio of tasty ass food to well-poured drinks, things can get a little interesting as the afternoon progresses. Observe:
It all starts very well-mannered and innocent and we’re content just drinking light beer.
That is until the allure of sickingly sweet fruit juiced shots shrouds our judgement (again) and has us smiling for the camera and throwing caution to the wind (again).
And as we take the first sip we begin to think, “Hey it’s not so bad after all…”
“On second thought, yes, yes it is that bad. Where’s the bucket because I need to hurl.”
Meanwhile, my mother gets one step closer to bashing a Corona piñata. After she falls into the pool…
My dad gets dolled up and ready for his quinceniera…
And we greet the setting sun in our finest livery. Betcha didn’t know we cleaned up nice.
Later in the eve, mum finds a bucket to hurl in…albeit a very very small one, that may or may not have been a plastic cactus shot glass once containing low-grade tequila.
And at the end of the night we discover much to our disbelief that grandma was the one hoarding the hooch.
Yes, we are strange birds.
Make these mussels and blast the music. Preferably the one below– it’s a song we play when everyone is already pretty “happy” and basically instructs you to “pass the bottle,” meaning take a swig and give it to your friend, over and over and over again. For 3 minutes. Salud!
Choros a la chalaca
Makes enough snacks for 2 people + beers
2 pounds fresh mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1 cup cold water
1 jalapeño, diced finely (with or without seeds depending on your heat tolerance)
1 ear of corn, husk and silks removed, kernels chopped off
1 small roma tomato, seeds removed, diced finely
1/4 red onion, diced finely
Juice of 1 lime
S + P
// Start by making the salsa: throw the diced jalapeño, corn kernels, diced tomato and red onion into a small bowl. Squirt the lime juice over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix with a spoon and give it a taste, adjusting the seasoning if preferred. Let them chill and get happy for a bit while you prepare the mussels.
Pour the water and mussels (gingerly, very gingerly) into a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Cover, bring the heat down and let simmer until the mussels just open, about 5 minutes. Discard any that haven’t opened. Let them cool slightly and then open the shells, remove the mussels from inside and put them into a small bowl; put the shells into a colander. If some of the shells still have dirt/sand clinging to them rinse them off now.
Grab a few baking sheets or large platters and start arranging the shells on top. Put the mussels back in. Scoop small teaspoon amounts of the salsa over the mussels and serve immediately with brain-freezingly cold beers. Yum.
Make it yours:
*Swap water for white wine (or Pisco!) as the cooking liquid for a more aromatic mussel– I stuck to plain ‘ol water b/c that’s what my dad does
*Use serrano peppers instead of jalapeños for intense heat, or better yet, ají amarillo or rocoto
*Pass around the Tabasco for an extra kick of acidity + spice with every slizzurp
*Add chopped fresh cilantro to the salsa for herby goodness