Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Fragrant Mussel Chowder
Whilst shopping in my local market I came across gorgeous green lip mussels, very large and firmer than the regular ones. To go with the sweet and flavorful mussels I had bell peppers, limes and kari leaves in my garden. I envisioned meatier, plum pillows nestled in their shells in a vegetable-laden soup I was in the mood to cook and share something dynamic.
You can substitute oysters or scallops or use a combination with the mussels. Serve with basmati rice, or thick slices of grilled bread, along with a salad of young greens.
1 pound fresh mussels, preferably New Zealand green
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon yellow or brown mustard seeds
15 fresh kari leaves (optional) or cilantro
1 cup finely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes
1 cup water
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup fresh or canned unsweetened coconut milk
2 limes cut into wedges
1. Rinse the mussels well and remove any stringy “beards” trailing from between the mussel shells. Set aside in a bowl.
2. Have a spatter screen ready before you continue to view the ‘dance of spices’. Heat the oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, immediately cover with the spatter screen and cook until the seeds stop popping or dancing, about 30 seconds. Add the kari leaves if using, onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, until the onion starts to brown at the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the coriander, pepper, cayenne and fenugreek and stir for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the mussels and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the water and salt, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mussels have opened, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and cook, uncovered, until very hot. Discard any mussels that do not open. Ladle into warm soup bowls, and pass lime wedges for everyone to squeeze into the soup, as they like. Serves 4