PEI mussels star in this Mark McEwan dish, bathed in a zippy, Latin-influenced tomato broth that’s big on flavour but low on fat and carbs. Stretch a little butter a long way by whipping it with ice water, and minimize the sodium content by making your own sofrito and fish stock.

Serves 2.



  • 1½ tbsp. (23 mL) minced onion
  • 1 tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) canned whole, unsalted roma tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. (30 mL) Spanish sofrito (see below)
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) chopped, oil-preserved red chili
  • 2 lb. (1 kg) mussels, scrubbed
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) white wine
  • 1 cup (250 mL) fish stock (see below)
  • 1 tbsp. (15 mL) whipped butter (see below)
  • ½ tsp. (2 mL) lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. (30 mL) chopped, mixed parsley, oregano and cilantro
  • 1 whole scallion, sliced
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Spanish sofrito

  • 1 cup (250 mL) minced red or white onion
  • ½ cup (125 mL) minced celery
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) minced fennel
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) minced carrot
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) minced garlic
  • ½ cup (125 mL) olive oil

Fish stock

  • 2 lb. (1 kg) white fish bones (such as halibut, sole, turbot, flounder), rinsed and chopped
  • ½ Spanish onion, sliced
  • 1 small leek, white part only, sliced
  • 16 parsley stems
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) white wine
  • 2 tsp. (10mL) kosher salt

Whipped butter

  • 1/3 lb (150 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ice cube


  1. Combine the sofrito, vegetables and garlic in a saucepan, add the oil and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until vegetables are completely wilted. Set aside.
    • You need only 2 tbsp. (30 mL) of sofrito for the mussels. Refrigerate the rest for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months, and use it as a foundation for soups or stews, in rice dishes, to perk up steak, beans or eggs, or even as a dip like salsa.
  2. Combine all the fish stock ingredients in a heavy-bottomed stockpot (not aluminum). Add 2 quarts (2 L) cold water, bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour or so, skimming scum from the surface as it rises. Strain and set aside.
    • You need only 1 cup (250 mL) of stock for the mussels; freeze the rest in ice-cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in freezer bags.
  3. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Blend until creamy. Add ice cube and blend until melted and incorporated completely. Keep refrigerated.
  4. In a large sauté pan, sweat the onions in olive oil over medium heat for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, sofrito and chili. Sauté a minute longer.
  5. Add the mussels and immediately deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring up all the browned bits.
  6. Continue cooking until the wine has reduced by about a third, then add the fish stock. Bring to a simmer and then cover the pot. While the mussels are cooking, warm a large serving bowl.
  7. After 5 to 7 minutes, stir the pot to check for any mussels that have not popped open, and discard them.
  8. Add the butter, lemon juice and half the chopped herbs and scallion, and season lightly. Stir again. Taste and correct seasonings, if necessary.
  9. Transfer the mussels to the warm serving bowl, pour the sauce over top and sprinkle with the remaining chopped herbs and scallion.

Nutrition per serving (half the recipe):

Calories 330
Fat 18g
Saturated fat 4.5g
Cholesterol 85mg
Sodium 600mg
Carbohydrate 12g
Fibre 1g
Sugars 2g
Protein 22g

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