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[Recipe] Tahong na may bawang, luya, at dahon ng sili (Mussels cooked with garlic, ginger, and chili pepper leaves)

I like eating shellfish and mussels, in particular, are a personal favorite. I don't really cook shellfish that often as fresh ones are not that easy to come by from where I live. Occasionally though, the nearby talipapa (local neighborhood wet market) would sell fresh mussels and I would cook this recipe. It is not a traditional recipe but it does take elements from my favorite method of cooking that I have grown up with.

Tahong (mussels) dish
This tahong (green mussels) recipe is a blend of traditional flavor profiles used in popular Filipino tinolang tahong recipes (mussels in gingery broth usually topped with young chili pepper leaves), and my other favorite way of cooking that uses Old Bay seasoning, garlic, butter, and white wine. The combination works surprisingly well with that unmistakable taste of ginger, the slight bitterness of the chili leaves, to the slight hint of heat coming from the Old Bay seasoning (you can add cayenne pepper if you prefer a little bit more heat). I have chosen to grate the ginger so that the flavor blends better (I don't really like biting into a piece of ginger and getting that overpowering taste) and also to remove most of the fibrous material in the ginger root. Alternatively, you can add a little white wine or even some Korean soju (I have tried using the latter with successful results) and I would advise to mix it in when adding the mussels to cook to let some of the alcohol to boil off. I have left the salt measurement variable since I tend to make mine a bit salty (the broth is perfect for mixing with freshly cooked rice).

1 Kg mussels, washed and debearded
1 cup of dahon ng sili (leaves of the chili pepper plant), roughly chopped
1 whole bulb of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Old Bay spice mix
2 Tablespoons olive oil
100 grams unsalted butter
1 medium-sized ginger, roughly the size of 2 fingers side by side, peeled then grated
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons powdered dried oregano
salt to taste

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil in medium heat. Melt the butter and add in the minced garlic and cook until light brown. Add the grated ginger and cook for about a minute before adding the cleaned mussels. Add the Old Bay spice mix, the dried oregano, and the salt and pepper while constantly stirring. The mussels will start to open up and release some liquid at the bottom of the saucepan. Be sure to scoop some of that liquid and pour over the cooking mussels so that the flavorful broth goes inside the shells. Stir in the chopped chili pepper leaves when the mussels are halfway done. Reduce the heat and simmer the broth at the bottom while covered. Check from time to time to stir the an and test for doneness. Discard all unopened shells before serving.

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