Sunday, 13 July 2014

Check out those mussels...

The past week has been a daze, mainly due to my post holiday buzz and general happiness that the next holiday is only a week away. Last week I was in sunny Spain, in a little place called Tamariu, or should I say the Beverley Hills of España. We stayed in a beautiful villa, up in the hills overlooking the sea and ten minutes away from a beautiful town called Begur. It felt like the Cannes you had always hoped for...full of beautiful artisan shops, restaurants and people, and none of the pretentious and expensive malarkey that taints your memory. If you are ever out there, there is an incredible little beach called Aiguablava with an even more incredible seafood restaurant called Toc al Mar. GO.THERE. 

One thing which always makes me feel like I'm well into the holiday is how your view of food changes. As there were ten of us, (and a beautiful kitchen I could practically live in), we cooked most nights - fresh fish, mountains of Spanish tortilla, salads, jamón, wine...and more wine. We even attempted a cake without any scales (buttery deliciousness for your information). You have the time to cook for enjoyment, as opposed to scrapping a meal of sorts after work, and your whole body seems to reset and relax. It's wonderful. That is, until you leave things out on the table and go poolside...and a wiley gang of cats come in and steal your food. Bastards.

The summer hunger you get after swimming can only be relinquished with seafood and shellfish...and mussels hits the spot for me. I wanted to make some of these sweet suckers with a little punchy zing of spring onions. The bright and contrasting colours are inviting and you can pop these mussels in your mouth again and again, like munching on a packet of crisps. The sauce is a take on what the Chinese normally eat with poached chicken. But, I've realised it's just as tasty on rice, noodles and now as a dipping sauce for this dish. Try it out, mussels are economical and most definitely a crowd pleaser. Serve with egg noodles or even just some steamed mantou buns that you can find in asian grocery shops to soak up that delicious sauce. 

Ingredients (serves two greedy mouths)

850 grams mussels
2 shallots, finely chopped 
75ml shaosing rice wine 
1 tablespoon fish sauce 
1 small piece of grated ginger

6 spring onions
10 grams of grated ginger 
80ml vegetable oil
2 handfuls of frozen edamame beans

Make the spring onion sauce. In a blender add 4 of the spring onions and the ginger. Whizz till it's finely chopped. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan. Wait until it's searingly hot, you'll be able to just start seeing smoke. As soon as you see that, take it off the heat and add the spring onions and ginger. Be careful as it may spit. Leave it to cool slightly and return to the blender for one last pulse. Set aside to cool. 

Blanch the edamame beans and 2 remaining spring onions for about 1 minute in hot water. Add to the blender and set aside.

For the mussels, make sure the shells are cleaned and de-bearded. Run them under a cold tap and discard any which are open or have cracked shells. 
In a wok, heat up a little oil and sauté the shallots. On a high heat, add the wine, fish sauce and ginger till boiling and then chuck the mussels in and cover. Give the wok a shake and after about 3-4 minutes the shells should open and you're ready to serve up. 
Drizzle the spring onion sauce over the top and set the edamame beans on the side.

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