For the Nut Sauce:
1 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper
40 large mussels in the shell
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Peanut oil for deep-frying
Soak 10 small wooden skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.
FOR THE NUT SAUCE: Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven until toasted and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Let cool, then place in a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender. Add the garlic and bread crumbs and use rapid on-off pulses to combine. Add the olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice and purée until smooth; thin to a spoonable consistency with water, if necessary. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more vinegar or lemon juice, if needed; transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
Discard any mussels that do not close to the touch, then scrub the mussels well under running water.
Pour water to a depth of 1 inch in a large, wide sauté pan and add the mussels. Place over high heat, cover and cook until the mussels open, 3-4 minutes. Drain the mussels and discard any that have not opened. Remove the mussels from their shells, gently pulling off their beards. Drain the skewers and thread 4 mussels on each skewer.
In a wide, shallow bowl, combine the water and flour and stir to make a thin batter. Set aside.
In a deep frying pan or wok, pour in peanut oil to a depth of 2-3 inches. Heat to 375 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer (or until a tiny bit of the batter dropped into the oil sizzles immediately).
Working in batches, dip the mussel-loaded skewers into the batter, then slip them into the oil. Fry, turning as needed, until golden on all sides, 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep warm until all the mussels are cooked.
TO SERVE: Arrange the skewers on a serving dish. Serve hot with the sauce on the side.
Active Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Yield: 6 Servings