These stuffed mussels, or tigres as they are called in Spain, are a popular seafood tapas dish. Chopped, cooked mussels are added to a thick white sauce, which is put into mussel shells, bread crumbed and fried.
You can buy ready-to-cook tigres, but it’s simple and much tastier to make your own. You can even freeze the stuffed shells up to the point of frying if you want to make a large batch to use later.
Sauté the onions and peppers in the olive oil until the onions have softened and changed color.
Stir in the flour and cook for a couple minutes until the flour begins to change color.
Season with the salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne.
Stir in the milk in small amounts and continue to stir as the sauce thickens.
You should end up with a creamy, thick sauce.
Remove from the heat and use kitchen scissors to chop the cooked mussels directly into the sauce.
Allow the sauce to cool while you clean up the mussel shells and prepare a plate of seasoned bread crumbs.
Spoon a generous amount of sauce into empty mussel shells and press them, sauce side down, into the bread crumbs.
Remove to a tray and repeat for the other mussels.
At this point the mussels can be frozen on the tray if you don’t want to use them now. After they are frozen they can be placed in a freezer bag or other container.
To cook, estimate the height of the filling and add oil to the same depth in a skillet. Heat over medium high heat. Place the tigres shell side up in the oil and fry until the bread crumbs are a golden color and the filling is heated through. Serve as soon as they’re cooked, either alone or with a salad.
You don’t have to defrost the tigres before cooking if you have frozen them, which is very convenient! Keep the mussel shells after everyone has finished eating, wash them thoroughly and reuse them.