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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Curried Mussels

This is a quote straight from Stephanie Alexander: "Purists may frown, but curry powder is an essential ingredient in mouclade, one of the most popular mussel dishes served on the Brittany coast". Which is just me getting in early to defend my use of Keen's curry powder, usually used to flavour devilled eggs for old lady bring-a-plate functions. Keen's curry powder always makes me think of those old fashioned Aussie style 'curries' which added bananas, apples and sultanas to the pot. Bleeach.
So, I found myself buying lots of shoes at a factory outlet place close to one of Melbourne's best wholesale seafood suppliers called Poseidon. Many people don't know about this place, and that it's also open to the public. They're are a specialist supplier to restaurants, and located in a dead-end alley in a building that always looks closed. What they're most known is for their fresh oysters, which you can buy for about $8 a dozen, but their fish and other shellfish is always extremely fresh and sold straight from the ocean that morning, without huge retail markups.
But I had decided on mussels for dinner. 1 kilo of mussels for 2 people cost me all of $6. You can't really get a more affordable seafood dinner than that, can you?
I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with them. I knew I wanted to steam them with wine, but I wanted something a bit more interesting to make a sauce. I found this recipe from Jean-Georges on The Amateur Gourmet's site, and using that combined with Stephanie's mouclade recipe as inspiration, I created something of my own. Both use curry powder with a dairy component to flavour the sauce; Stephanie with cream & Jean-George with sour-cream. Deciding not to use the fiddly egg yolk & flour emulsion of Stephanie's I decided instead to use tinned coconut milk as my 'dairy' component, to give it a bit more of an Asian flavour, and a little bit of sweetness. With some coriander over the top, it was a great combination.
The mussels were very big, and surprisingly filling but next time I won't add so much lemon juice; 1 lemon was far too much, and was nearly mouth-puckeringly sour. I've altered it in the recipe below. The curry flavour came through well, which I really enjoyed.
Although I would have loved some french fries with this, I tried to be good, and I had toasted rye bread, which worked really well. Rye bread is a traditional accompaniment to oysters, along with stout, so it wasn't so odd a combination.
A quick, easy and impressive recipe for mussels, and one I'll definitely make again the next time.
Read on for the recipe:

Curried Mussels semi-mouclade

1.5 kilos fresh mussels in the shell, cleaned and de-bearded
40g butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon curry powder
juice 1/2 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
fresh coriander

Melt butter in a large pan and cook onion until transparent. Add the wine and mussels and cover with a lid. Let steam for about 10 minutes, until mussels open. Discard any that don't open as they have died and will make you very sick.
Remove mussels to another bowl and get on with making the sauce. Add the coconut milk, curry powder and lemon juice and cook until reduced slightly. Return the mussels to the pan and spoon some sauce over them before adding cracked pepper and the coriander leaves.


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