Mussels really are one of my lifelong favourites. I must have cooked them over 50 times, and simply adore the way those juicy critters mop up pretty much any flavour you throw at them. Whilst I am a strong advocate of the more traditional French inspired recipes, I am also a huge fan of a more oriental approach to them.
I can fully understand why some people may be a little apprehensive about the risk associated with them – to date, and following a few simple steps, I have never given myself, or anyone else food poisoning. Yet! ;o)
My simple rules are:
- buy as fresh as possible
- store refrigerated as soon as you get them home, and eat as soon as possible
- fill a bowl with cold water, and carefully tip mussels into it. stir around a bit for any grit etc to leave the shell. The water will look quite cloudy.
- carefully debeard mussels
- discard any mussels with a broken/cracked shell
- ditch water and refresh again, stir mussels until no more grit remains.
- drain mussels thoroughly just before cooking
The following recipe was found on Jamie Oliver’s website, with a couple of minor tweaks made to it. Whilst I first followed the original verbatim, and loved it, I wanted to adapt it to be a little zestier.
- 2 kg mussels washed and debearded
- 1 tbsp Groundnut oil
- 4 spring onions finely sliced
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- zest of a lime
- 2 garlic cloves grated
- 1 thumb sized piece of fresh root ginger or galangal peeled and grated.
- Small bunch of coriander stalks finely chopped, leaves picked
- 1 lemongrass stick outer layer peeled
- 1 red chilli finely sliced
- 400 ml coconut milk half fat if you can find it
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 limes 1 x juiced, 1 x quartered for garnish
- In a large saucepan (I use a large stockpot as the mussels certainly expand when steaming), heat a little groundnut oil and soften the spring onions, garlic, coriander stalks, lemongrass, most of the chilli for around 5 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and juice of 1 lime and bring to the boil.
- Carefully add the mussels and cover pan. Steam for 5 minutes, until the mussels are open and cooked. A couple of minutes through, mix the mussels through the stock so that the flavour is evenly distributed. Give 'em a good old stir.
- Discard any mussels which are clammed shut and would take a power tool to get those shells apart. Those which are partially opened (and clearly cooked through) are absolutely fine. If in doubt, leave them out.
- Sprinkle coriander leaves and chilli, and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.