recipe

Credit: EARL CARTER

Marinated mussels with green chilli and celtuce

I think it’s probably relevant to talk about the weather. Summer’s here and the sunshine is a good excuse for mussels.

One of the joys of summer is seafood. What I like in particular at the moment is seafood that has been marinated.

These mussels are in a green chilli paste that I first started using on octopus in the restaurant. I’ve adjusted the recipe, deleting some of the salt and adding mussel juice.

I tend to marinate the mussels on the day, but they can be marinated overnight to take on a slightly pickled quality.

These are probably as close as I would come to making a canapé at home. It’s a nice way to snack without getting too formal about it.

Actually, a confession: as I get older, I do like to do more canapés. I even jiggle my fingers when I say it, to show it’s extra fancy. There’s something quite satisfying about presenting a morsel that’s absolutely packed full of flavour. It’s a great way to start a dinner party. To save time, though, I will default to a tin of anchovies and a stack of toast.

The other element in this dish is celtuce, which is a vegetable we are seeing a lot more of now. I ate it for the first time when I lived in China, and am happy to see it here. It was offered as an appetiser, chopped and served with sesame oil and a healthy or unhealthy pinch of MSG, depending on your outlook.

It’s sort of like a cos with a juicy stem instead of leaves, hence its other, slightly cruel name: stem lettuce. The contribution it makes to this dish is texture and freshness. If you were really pushed, you could get away with celery for a similar effect.

 

Marinated mussels with green chilli and celtuce

 

The mussels can be opened the day before you wish to serve this dish. Cooked mussels keep well in the reserved cooking liquid.

– 1kg mussels

– 1 piece celtuce or 2 pieces celery heart

– 5 sprigs coriander

 

Dressing

– 60g green chilli, minced

– 1 tsp minced ginger

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 2 tbsp light soy sauce

– 1 tbsp shallot, finely diced

– 1 tbsp black vinegar

– 1 tbsp rice vinegar

– 1 tsp sugar

– 1 tbsp grapeseed oil

– 1 tsp sesame oil

– 2 tbsp mussel stock

 

Take the mussels and debeard them by tearing away the tough fibres/hair protruding from the shell. Using a fresh piece of steel wool, scrub each mussel to remove any debris.

Heat a large saucepan over a high heat, add the mussels and a splash of water to the pan. Cover with a lid and cook over a high heat. After a minute or two, remove the lid and give the mussels a stir. Return the lid and repeat the process until the mussels begin to open.

When most of the mussels have opened, strain the contents into a colander resting over a bowl to collect the liquid. When cool enough to handle, remove the mussels from each shell. Clean each mussel of any broken shell or beards you may have missed. Return each mussel to a half shell and arrange on a platter.

To make the marinade, mix all the ingredients together. Peel and slice the celtuce or celery, slice thinly and dress with a tablespoon of the dressing. Arrange the celtuce on and around the mussels on the platter. Finish the dish by carefully spooning the dressing over the mussels and strew the whole dish with picked coriander leaves.

 

Wine pairing:

2017 Two Tonne Tasmania Ziggurat riesling/gewurztraminer, northern Tasmania ($32)

– Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Dec 2, 2017 as "Summer openings". Subscribe here.

Andrew McConnell
is the executive chef and co-owner of Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc. He is The Saturday Paper’s food editor.

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