I don’t have a gym membership, I’m woefully out of condition and my gluteus is at maximus. My mussels, though, are second to none.
The classic way to cook these cheap and tasty shellfish is with white wine or cider and a splash of cream, but with the wintery weather I was craving something spicier. This recipe, based on the Goan sauce I use for fish curries, really warmed my cockles. (Enough puns: Ed.)
A note on cleaning and eating mussels: just before you want to cook them, scrape off their beards and barnacles with a knife and rinse them well under cold water, then rinse them again. Discard any with damaged shells or which don’t close up if you give them a sharp tap (before cooking) or with shells that don’t open (after cooking).
1 kg mussels
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium-hot chilli, finely sliced
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tspn Kashmiri chilli powder (or another mild to medium chilli powder)
1/2 tspn turmeric
1 tspn ground cumin
2 tspn ground coriander
1 tbsp tomato puree
A scant 1/2 tspn tamarind concentrate (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400ml coconut milk
Fresh coriander, to garnish
Lime wedges, to serve
Clean the mussels as described above. Heat the oil in a large deep pan and cook the onion gently until soft and golden.
Add the garlic, ginger, fresh chilli and spices, and cook for a couple of minutes more. Now stir in the tomato puree and tamarind (if using) and cook them off for a further minute or so.
Season with pepper and a scant amount of salt, add the coconut milk and simmer for two or three minutes until the flavours have blended.
Crank up the heat, throw in the mussels, put on a lid and cook at max for three or four minutes until the mussels have opened.
Check the seasoning and decant into bowls, not forgetting that luscious sauce. Scatter with fresh coriander and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.