Friday, 27 January 2012

Alive Alive Oh!

I’m not going to tell you the benefits of eating seafood, the whys and the wherefores; the feeling one gets after eating them is enough.

Light and free, it’s the way one wants to be?!

Simply to taste the sea, to float on an Island of majestic magic, is to eat this DELIGHTFUL shellfish. Mussels. The ultimate sensory food experience.
Ah, Mussels, gently sweet and temptingly salty – they are at their best in colder months. Only the freshest will do. Avoid broken ones and select only those with tightly closed shells. They will open up during cooking to reveal their orange flesh, if they’re female and paler cream if they’re male. As with all fish, I like to cook them on the day I buy them, this insures freshness and avoids any stinky smells lurking in the fridge! As you wash them, indulge any OCD notions you may have, for one damaged mussel makes for another experience altogether. This  dish deserves to be great, so freely chuck away anything that doesn’t feel right, the heavier ones are usually full of sand, bin them. De-beard, with a quick pulling movement and remove any barnacles, this is a dish to celebrate freshness and the sea – so the time it takes to clean them is well worth it.

I’m learning from these dear shellfish, they’re understated and are environmentally sound, growing in abundance and are fairly reasonably priced.
As a child my younger brother sang his very own rendition of “In Dublin’s fair city….” at all family occasions this would be called upon. There is something beautiful about the sound of a child’s voice, the gentle and unaffected notes, sometimes I wish that I could travel back in time, to notice things that passed so freely then and that I treasure so heartily now, and then I remind myself, this is NOW, this is BEAUTIFUL and all I am, I am today. Funnily I am most myself when I feel comfortable, with that in mind I urge you to enjoy eating with those you feel comfortable with too, there is no better company.
There is a time and there is now, and now is the time for plenty of soft crusty bread to soak up the gorgeous liquor that this dish gives! To Thailand and Beyond…


Mussels with Thai flavours

Mussels, 2kg cleaned (any broken or open shells discard)
Thai fish sauce, 1 tbsp
Garlic clove, 1 bashed and crushed into a paste
Red chilli, 1 finely chopped (keep seeds in if you like heat)
Ginger, 1 tsp finely chopped
Lemongrass, woody outer layers removed and roughly chopped
Sesame oil, 1 tbsp
Lemon/lime 1, juice and zest
Spring onions, 4 cut into one each pieces on a diagonal

CLEAN mussels with TLC and plenty of fresh running cold water.
FEEL close to the sea! Lucky you, if you are.
PLACE mussels in a large lidded saucepan with all the other ingredients.
COOK over a high heat for 3 minutes, until mussels have just opened.
DISCARD any that are stubbornly closed – to the bin and beyond!
SERVE at once, in warmed large bowls, with some delicious crusty soft bread to mop up the liquor, or thick udon noodles work well too.

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