We are back after a three week break from the kitchen, markets and any work for that matter, and it is good to be back in the kitchen again. We ended 2014 with an unexpected catering job for New Year, which was exciting as we had carte blanche from the client. The New Year kicked off on a high note when the same client asked me cook, cater and be the chef for her 50th birthday on 4 January. The challenge was that I was all alone in the kitchen, no help as my staff is still on holiday and only come on the 7th. However, I did it all on my own and we presented a delicious 3-course menu. I want to single out one of my favourite dishes for this menu, which was my Harissa Mussels cooked in Coconut Milk served with Jasmine Rice and fresh baked ciabatta. We served it as the Starter course. Be generous with your mussels, I detest it when I go out to restaurants and I have to send out a search and rescue team to find the mussels in the bowl of sauce! Make sure each guest gets at least 10-12 mussels if you serve it as a main course and 8-10 as a starter. Just a note about the Taste Café Harissa Paste – our Harissa Paste is potent, it has a sharp bite to it that lingers on the tongue, but it is rounded off by all the other wonderful herbs and spices we have blended into our paste. You can order from us, or buy from us when we are on a market near you again. A note on the wine, use a white wine that is not to sharp and sour, it detracts from the natural sweetness of the mussels. I used Place in the Sun, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 15min| Recipe: Easy | Serve: 4-6 For the Rice:
- 400g Jasmine or Basmati Rice – cooked as per instructions on the packaging
For the Mussels:
- 700-900g Half Shell Mussels
- 1 Tin Coconut Milk
- 120ml Double Cream
- 30g Butter
- 125ml Dry White Wine
- 4 Shallots, finely chopped
- 4 Cloves Garlic, finely shopped
- Zest of one lemon
- 1tsp Saffron Strands
- 1tsp Taste Café Harissa Paste
- Salt & Black Pepper to taste
- Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley and Spring Onions for sprinkling
- Boil and prepare the rice as per instructions. Start with the rice first, once cooked it can wait while you cook the mussels.
- Melt the butter in a heavy pot and add the chopped shallots and garlic and fry until soft over low heat. Add the saffron, lemon zest and harissa paste and fry for about 20 seconds.
- Add the white wine and allow the alcohol to cook off. Add the coconut milk and cream and allow to reduce by about a third before you add the mussels.
- Once reduced add the mussels and black pepper, put a lid on the pot and allow to steam/cook for about 8 minutes, giving it a good stir once or twice as to cover the mussels in the sauce.
- Once cooked, taste for salt, but be careful the mussels adds enough salt and I find that you don’t need any more salt, but this is a matter of taste.
- As the mussels will release their liquid into the sauce, check that your sauce isn’t too thin. If too thin, remove the mussels and reduce it, once reduced add the mussels and serve with the rice and sprinkling of chopped parsley and spring onions.