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.


Peter M said...

It seems many are leary of mussels and I don't understand...they are so delicious and affordable...good show!

Joanna said...

SOOOO jealous of your spring. Here we are wrapping up warm and still feeling the cold ;)

Lovely photo of the blossom - will you post some tulips when they start to come through?

Wendy said...

You do love your mussels!
Adore that first photo. :)

Katie Zeller said...

Those blossoms are gorgeous! As are the mussels!
We still have about a month of mussels left - unless the cold weather continues. hahaha! I understand about the temperature swings - but from the opposite direction!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Well, now see I was really tired of all that heat and celebrated yesterday when I could have a fire in the fireplace!! and got my socks and extra blankets out, hooray!
My husband would surly cheer for your mussels as he always orders them when they appear on a menu knowing I don't do 'em. Yours look really delish!!

Linda said...

Don't you just love, yet simultaneously hate our Melbourne weather? Saturday was beautiful and sunny 27 degrees, Sunday was a digustingly hot 33, then Monday comes and it's grey and uninviting! Sigh...

Love your photos of the blossoms!

Truffle said...

Peter M - I couldn't agree more!

Joanna - I adore tulips so I think I really should!

Wendy - thanks Wendy. I'm a bit of a mussel addict. Would you believe I own a cookbook devoted to them?

katiez - thanks so much!

MyKitchenInHalfCups - thanks so much! Having a fire going sounds lovely. Makes me miss winter!

Linda- thanks! I guess the good part about the crazy weather is it beats having endless days of intolerable heat! I'll miss these cooler ones when summer sets in.

Anh said...

way to go! I have been complaining about the weather, too. Sun was damn hot and the next day it was cold...

Love your mussel dish. My fav way of eating mussels really.. :D And do you agree that mussels taste really now? I just had mine the other day in pasta. Awesome!

Lucy said...

Utter madness this weather.

Your mussel addiction is, I think, starting to take a hold of me...hot and spicy food is the only way to be sure of a good meal at this time of the year!

Paul said...

I love this post. It put a smile on my face when I read it. You are absolutely right about the weather keeps shifting from one extreme to the next! And Mike and I love mussels. We eat them at least once a week when Im not in the mood for complicated cooking. X

Truffle said...

Anh- thanks! Crazy, isn't it?

The mussels are fabulous right now. Can't get enough of them.

Lucy- Lovely to hear from you! I'm so glad you agree!

Big Boys Oven said...

You had been tagged by us

Serenity Later said...

Yum! Great dish Truffle! Not that it helps me much but whereabouts are you getting your mussels from? Here in (landlocked) canberra its a bit of a hit and miss affair with these delectable molluscs. I've said this before but here goes again: ' i miss melbourne!' *sigh!*

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

We had weird weather this Spring. We were jumping in the paddling pool at the end of March beginning of April (not normal for England) only to have a wet and not so warm summer. We then had a very warm start to Autumn. It's now turned COLD enough for me to regret not ordering logs for the fire earlier.

The mussels sound wonderful, perfect for eating on the sofa infront of an open fire!

Truffle said...

Big Boys Oven - thanks for the tag! I'm going to answer it here in case I don't get around to another post for quite awhile.

A. Found in my room
1. bed
2. dressing table
3. candles
4. books
5. perfume bottles

B. I have always wanted to
1. work overseas
2. learn French cooking
3. have kids
4. travel around India
5. learn to paint

C. found in my bag
1. mobile
2. keys
3. wallet
4. lipstick
5. coins

D. found in my wallet
1. credit cards
2. gym membership
3. money
4. ID
5. petrol discount dockets

E. I am currently into
1. finishing my law degree
2. starting a new job
3. making travel plans
4. chilled soups
5. reading in the bath

Serenity Later - thanks so much! I think the mussels at the Vic Markets are often quite good but have lately been buying them from Victoria St Richmond.

Anonymous said...

Truffle, you just get better and better. These photos are amazing - pure food porn! The blossom is lovely too. I love mussel soup so much, especially that one you put up with the chorizo in it. It was delicious!

claire said...

Yeah, in a twisted way I kind of like the schitzo weather at the moment. Always keeps you guessing!

Ooooh, those mussels. I have a love/fear relationship with mussels due to traumatic food poisoning - ten years ago got soooo violently ill for several days from dodgy Moules Frites in a tourist trap bistro in Montmartre that now, even though I want to enjoy them (especially when they're as nice as your ones look!), I still feel slightly nauseous when I eat them. Even if they're super-fresh. (sigh)

Truffle said...

Amanda- Sorry I missed yours before. We posted at the same time! I'm surprised to hear how cold it's been there at this time of year. The weather is certainly doing strange things!

Anonymous -thanks so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed it :)

mutemonkey - you certainly don't get bored with weather like this!

I'm so sorry to hear about your mussel trauma. I had a similar incident with prawns in India. Put me off them for quite awhile but I have a very forgiving (perhaps even fickle?) stomach and luckily am enjoying them again. Your experience sounds horrible!

Anonymous said...

I found myself saying, "Oh my goodness!" as I looked at those beautiful (and yummy) pictures. Wonderful! I too feel jealous. We're heading towards winter here.

Cynthia said...

I've never had mussels :(

Kelly-Jane said...

Your food looks great, but I love the pictures of the blossoms, so fleeting and beautiful =) 35 down to 15 is quite and rise and fall!

Truffle said...

sher - thank you so much! I think this sort of warming food will actually be perfect for winter and I envy all that other glorious winter fare you'll be indulging in soon!

Cynthia - I wish I could send you some. At the same time I'm terribly jealous of the wonderful produce you have there!

Kelly-Jane - my street is lined with trees filled with these blossoms. It's quite lovely this time of year although the weather is certainly a bit muddled.

Belinda said...

Those are such pretty blossoms, so cheerful! We are supposed to be into the fall here in Georgia, but as usual for us, our summer weather seems to go on and on! I'm ready for a bit of a change from hot temps now though, so maybe it will take a turn for the cool soon. The mussels sound really good...they are something I love to eat, but am intimidated to try cooking myself.

Nora B. said...

Hi Truffle, those blossoms look so pretty. It was really humid in Sydney today, but at least the weather has been quite predictable this week.

I LOVE mussels! This one sounds & looks just as delicious as your other mussel recipes. Can't wait to try making this myself.

Truffle said...

Belinda - long summers can be exhausting! Hope the weather changes soon.

I used to be terrified of mussels but they're so quick and easy to prepare that now I'm addicted!

Nora B.- thanks so much! I miss the consistency of Sydney weather sometimes. Was there a few weeks ago and it was just lovely!