One of my all-time favorite appetizers! This is a very popular coastal recipe; “chalaca” means that it is from Callao, Lima’s main seaport.

It is often served as a first course at cevicherias. Served in their own shells, these mussels make a striking display.

Click here for great instructions on cleaning, debearding, and preparing mussels for cooking.


Choros a la Chalaca
Servings Prep Time
9-12people (2-3 per person) 15minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
9-12people (2-3 per person) 15minutes
Cook Time
  • 2dozen black mussels
  • 1cup steaming liquid(beer, white wine, stock, etc.)
  • 1 each bay leaf
  • 1 medium red onion, small dice
  • 1/2small rocoto pepper, minced
  • 4-5medium plum tomatoes, ripe, small dice
  • 1/2cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2cup choclo (Peruvian corn) or white corn kernels
  • 2each fresh lime juice
  • 1/2tsp. kosher or sea salt (to taste)
  • 1/2tsp. black pepper (to taste)
  1. Rinse and scrub the mussels in cold water until the shells are clean. Check for dead mussels; discard.
  2. Prepare a tall stockpot with about ½” of beer, chicken stock or water; add the bay leaf, and one of the squeezed limes. Heat until boiling.
  3. Add the mussels gently, but all at once (an easy way to do this is lower a colander or steamer basket into the pot). Cover and steam until the mussels open (about 4-5 minutes).
  4. Immediately remove from heat; drain and allow to cool (but do not rinse).
  5. When cool, remove the mussels from their shells. Keep the top portion of the mussel (the part without the muscle attached) and line up on a platter or tray. Place one mussel in each shell.
  1. Place the choclo in a small saucepot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes / until tender. Drain and shock with cold water.
  2. Dice the onion as finely as possible; place in a small bowl, and cover with cold water. Soak the onions for 5-10 minutes, then drain well.
  3. Chop the tomato and cilantro; add to the onions.
  4. Combine the fresh-squeezed lime juice, salt, and pepper; taste, and adjust seasoning as desired. Add juice to salsa; mix to combine. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  1. Place a spoonful of salsa on top of each mussel. Use the mussel as a spoon / scoop to eat the mussel.
Recipe Notes

Allow for 2-3 mussels per person.

Choclo is a Peruvian large-kerneled white corn. Goya brand choclo can be found in the freezer section of many supermarkets, or your local Latin markets.

Substitute habanero pepper (1/2 to one finely minced, seeded, ribs removed) if you cannot get fresh rocoto. Always take care when handling hot peppers! Use disposable gloves, wash your hands well, and be sure to thoroughly clean all utensils and equipment after cutting.