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Friday, January 30, 2009

Asian Mussels

I wish we could buy the tiny black mussels so readily available in France – here in Oz we have to be content with a slightly larger variety. We are let off the cleaning for those in a rush - mussels can be purchased these days pre-prepared and vacuum packed if you cannot be bothered with all that scrubbing!

The following recipe from my friend Barbara Lowery appeals to my Asian sensibility and is well suited to our larger mussels – it is an appropriate dish to serve down under and elsewhere too! A beautifully balanced dish; sweet, sour, salty with only a hint of heat while the lingering taste of fresh mint and coriander leave you wanting more!

Serves: 2 as a large starter
Serve: 4 - double the mussels and 50% more of the other ingredients

1 kg black mussels, cleaned, de-bearded
Splash of wine to steam open the mussels
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons raw sugar
2 tablespoons fresh limejuice
1-tablespoon sweet chilli sauce (available from most supermarkets)
4-5 drops sesame seed oil
¼ sweet fresh chilli, finely sliced for garnish
1 lime, thinly sliced for garnish
¼-bunch coriander, leaves only, finely chopped for garnish
¼-bunch mint, leaves only, finely chopped for garnish


Place mussels in a large saucepan; add a splash of wine for flavour or the liquor from the vacuum pack. Heat the pan and shake it continuously over the heat until all the mussels steam open - this will take about five minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and discard any mussels that have remained closed.

In a separate bowl mix; fish sauce, raw sugar, limejuice, sweet chilli sauce and sesame seed oil. Place mussels in serving bowls and spoon over the prepared sauce. Garnish with lime slices, fresh chilli and herbs.

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