Tuesday, 23 October 2007
A hit of heat
It's enough to make a climate change sceptic or even a seasoned Melburnian wonder. One day the thermometer hits 35C, the next it plummets to 15C. It’s all pink blossoms and shorts one day only to be followed by stockings and extra blankets the next. The only way a wardrobe challenged girl can comfort herself is with a bit of heat inducing food. Hopefully the warm sunshine filled days and blossoms will return soon.
In some meat-eating households chicken is the staple protein, for others it’s red meat but in this house there is a strong seafood bias. You may have noticed my penchant for mussels but having recently discovered a source for the freshest, plumpest juiciest little ones, I really can’t help myself. With that promised hit of heat, these differ from my usual preparations.
This Thai inspired recipe offers the traditional balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet. The mussels soak up a spicy warming broth finished with the freshness of coriander. A rich garlicky base and a blast of spice are balanced with a zesty lemon hit. This is anything but a subtle bowlful. When the cold weather unexpectedly sets in, sometimes that’s just what you need.
Thai Red Curry Mussels
1 tbsp peanut or canola oil
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 small red chilli diced (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
1 stalk lemongrass (crush the base to release the aromas)
2-4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1.5 cups vegetable stock or water (don’t use stock cubes as combined with the mussels you’ll have an overly salty broth.)
1 tsp fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 tsp palm sugar
500g/1lb mussels, debearded and scrubbed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
In a large pot sauté the garlic over a medium heat. As it begins to soften, add the chilli. Next add in the lemon grass, curry paste, palm sugar and fish sauce and allow the curry paste to cook off, releasing the spicy aromas. Pour in the stock and lemon zest before adding the mussels. Pop the lid on the pot and allow to steam until opened.
Take off the heat and remove the lemon grass stalk and kaffir lime leaves. Stir through the lime juice. Adjust seasoning to taste and ladle generous serves into bowls immediately so you can serve the mussels in all their plump and juicy glory. Serve with steamed rice, a Thai green papaya salad and lemon scented finger bowls.