I told my Dad for Fathers Day I would cook anything his heart desired and I was stoked when he asked for a big steaming bowl of mussels with some crusty bread. If there is any seafood I think is under-rated, mussels has to be it. They are cheap, plentiful, easy to cook and fun to eat. Ripping them out of their shells, slurping them, dipping bread into the slightly sea-salty tasting sauces left behind.
In fact, one of my favourite memories involves me and my cousin, at ages 23 and 28 spending hours excitedly stealing mussels from a particular Peninsula pier, filling up bags and bags and animatedly discussing what we would cook with them. Later that evening, with cuts all over our hands from pulling mussels all day, we cooked them up in a chilli tomato sauce and had a huge feast with all of our families. It was a great day.
This particular Fathers Day though, we acquired our mussels the legal way from my local fish shop... 2 kgs for about $14. I decided to do mussels two ways- one, my Dad's favourite in an Italian, tomato chilli sauce and another in a Thai red curry. So simple and easy (despite a bit of prep beforehand) and much enjoyed with a loaf of crusty bread and a nice bottle of red wine. A simple and interactive family meal.
Spicy Italian Mussels
1 kg mussels, bearded and scrubbed (I don't worry too much about scubbing them- I find it adds a taste of the ocean to the sauce)
2 cans of tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Large dash of white wine
Large handful of basil, chopped
Large handful of parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
In a large saucepan, heat a little olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Saute until soft. Add wine, tomatoes, basil and parsley and chilli powder. Simmer for five minutes. Add mussels and cover with lid. Leave for 5 minutes so mussels can steam, stirring occasionally so the yummy sauce can coat the mussels. Serve with crusty bread. Hint- if a mussel is open before cooking, throw it out. If it doesn't open when cooked, throw it out.
Red Curry Mussels
2 tablespoons of red curry paste
1 kg mussels, bearded and scrubbed
1 tin of coconut milk
Spring onion, chopped
Handful of coriander, chopped
1 carrot, sliced into toothpicks
1/2 red capsicum, sliced into toothpicks
In a large frypan or tagine, heat a little oil and add red curry paste. Saute until fragrant. Add coconut milk, spring onion, coriander, carrot and capsicum and stir to combine. Add mussels and cover if you can, cooking for about 5 minutes stirring occasonally. Serve with crusty bread or roti.
Enjoy! We did... ;)