The Basque Country is famous for its Spanish fare of simply but superbly tasty cuisine.

One such dish is Mejillones Rellenos or fried mussels, known locally in Bilbao in the North of Spain as ‘tigres’ because each stuffed shell is served  with separate tiger fierce hot sauce.

This unforgettable Spanish dish is most often served in tapas bars. In this relaxed tavern environment, it is not uncommon to find diners simply discarding their empty mussels shells onto the floor, which are cleaned up at the end of the night.  

Tigres Mejillones Rellenos


  • 18 mussels, scrubbed well and beards removed
  • 3 tbsps water
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsp onion, minced
  • 2 tbsps flour
  • 3 tbsps white wine
  • ½ cup mussel stock (you will make this in the cooking process)
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp of water
  • 4 tbsps fine dry breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil for frying


  1. Steam open the mussels by placing them in a deep saucepan full of water.
  2. Cover the pan and place over a high heat and cook until the shells open.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and throw away any of the mussels that do not open.
  4. Cool the mussels sufficiently to handle.
  5. Loosen the mussel meat from the bottom shell
  6.  Arrange the mussels in their shells on a tray.
  7. Strain the mussel water and retain.
  8. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan.
  9. Fry the minced onion until soft but not brown.
  10. Stir in the flour.
  11. Cook for a minute stirring frequently.
  12. Add the wine and mussel liquid.
  13. Mix well.
  14. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens and of a smooth consistency.
  15. Put a spoonful of the white sauce on top of each mussel in its shell.
  16. Smooth it down to be level with the top of the shell.
  17. Place the tray of filled mussels into the fridge until the sauce is firmly, at least 1 hour.
  18. Place the beaten egg into one dish and the breadcrumbs in another dish.
  19. Dip each mussel, open side face down into the egg.
  20. Next dip the mussel open side face down into the breadcrumbs, coating the top of the mussel.
  21. Heat up enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan.
  22. Fry the mussels in their shells with the breaded side face down until golden brown.
  23. Drain the mussels slightly with paper towels.
  24. Serve warm with hot sauce of choice.