Monday, March 12, 2012

Mussels in a Thai-Style Coconut Broth


Not only do mussels remind me of mythical creatures with their beards and archaic-like bodies, but they also hold a special place in my heart.

Each time I eat a mussel, memories are resurrected of a happy summer spent with my dad.

This summer, I had my dad all to myself and because I was a little obsessed with all things seafood and in particular mussels - we decided to try all the mussels in Plett.

My excitement as each steaming bowl of mussels was brought to the table was indescribable, not just because the smell was hypnotic - that heady combination of sea mingled with wine and garlic, or the fact that the aromatic liquid was about to be mopped up with a crispy piece of bread, but because I was sharing the experience with my dad.  

Mussels will always be my ultimate comfort food; when I am sad or feeling lonely, I need only make a pot of these yummy morsels and I am transported to my happy place.

Mussels in a Thai-Style Coconut Broth:

Serves 2 as a Main or 4 as a Starter

Prep time: 10 - 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 - 30 mins

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbs olive oil, for frying
1/2 tsp salt
1 Thai chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
15ml NoMU vegetable or chicken stock, diluted in 2 cups of water
400ml lite coconut milk
1 stalk lemon grass, bruised with the back of a knife to release the oils
3 baby leeks, whole
1 - 2 tsp sugar
+/- 30ml fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper (optional)
500g mussels (fresh or frozen)
Vermicelli rice noodles or Jasmine rice for serving (optional)



Method:

Defrost mussels, if frozen
Fry onion until translucent, add the salt to prevent it from burning
Add chilli and fry for a few minutes
Add stock and coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer
Add lemon grass and baby leeks
Add sugar, lemon juice, fish sauce, basil, parsley and Sichuan pepper
Simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavours to infuse
Taste and adjust flavouring where necessary
Remove leeks and slice
Remove lemon grass
Add mussels and put lid on pot
If mussels are already cooked, coat them in the sauce and allow them to heat through before removing from stove
If mussels are fresh, simmer for 5 - 7 minutes, until cooked
Discard any closed mussels
Add sliced leeks back to pot and stir
Test seasoning
Serve with vermicelli rice noodles or jasmine rice or eat them just as is

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