I bought a big bag of Shetland mussels from the market last Friday. They're just coming back into season so I wasn't sure if they'd be up to much, but they looked good and were great value (about four pounds a kilo).
As it turned out they were fantastic; plump, sweet and juicy with very few dodgy ones to discard. Not too gritty or beardy either. I cooked them in a Thai style broth that sort of made them into a light Thai curry. Rice seemed like a more sensible accompaniment than bread or chips. Cheap, delicious and ready in less than half an hour.
I also managed a successful beer match with this dish. I've been attempting beer and food matches on and off for a while now with mixed success, so was really chuffed to get this one right. The tropical fruit notes from the hops worked really well with the coconut broth, and the moderately bitter finish cut through the richness of the dish.
If I'm honest the beer was bloody lovely anyway, I could drink a lot of this with or without food. You can buy the Magic Rock beers at Beer Ritz in Headingley
You will need:
1 tin coconut milk
Basmati rice or Thai jasmine rice
thumb ginger (or galangal)
3-4 spring onions
1 stick lemongrass
4 cloves garlic
4 hot chillies
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground chilli powder
small bunch coriander
What to do:
1. Cook the rice first. Thai jasmine rice would probably be more authentic, but I love basmati and use it for pretty much everything. This is how I do it: For two people measure out one cup of rice, then put it in a pan with one and a third cups of boiling water. Bring it to the boil on the hob, then put the pan lid on and turn the hob down to the lowest setting.
2. Check to see how the rice is doing after about 6 or 7 minutes. When almost all of the water has been absorbed (usually between 6 & 10 minutes) pour in about a quarter of the coconut milk, then put the lid back on, move the pan off the heat and set aside.
3. While the rice is cooking give your mussels a good rinse under the tap, pulling off any beardy bits. Any that don't close up when you handle them are probably dead already, so you might want to throw them away. Leave them draining in the sink.
4. Finely chop the spring onions, garlic, chillies, lemongrass, ginger, and around a quarter of the stalks from the coriander.
5. Heat a large pan and add a good splash of oil (sunflower or whatever, not olive) then add each of the chopped ingredients one at a time in the same order as they're listed in number 4, stir-frying as you go. Stir-fry the whole lot for about a minute.
6. Add the fennel seeds to the pan and fry for a few seconds before adding the rest of the dry ingredients (ground coriander, chilli powder and good pinch of white pepper), then fry for another minute or so. If it starts to stick add a bit more oil.
7. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk, the juice of one of the limes and a splash of fish sauce (not too much as the mussels will release plenty of briny liquid). Bring to a simmer.
8. As soon as the curry sauce (which is what it is now with any luck) is simmering throw in the mussels and put the lid on immediately. Leave on a medium-high heat for about three minutes.
9. Roughly chop the coriander leaves and plate up your rice (which should be ever so slightly sticky from the coconut allowing you to serve it shaped from a mould Thai style). Be quick, you don't want chewy overdone mussels!
10. Check the mussels after three minutes. Most (if not quite all) of them should have opened up. As soon as the vast majority are open they are done. Pour over the rice with plenty of the sauce, garnish with coriander and wedges of lime and serve immediately.