CHU CHI MUSSELS
This is a semi dry Thai red curry dish which is normally cooked with seafood. There are so many varieties you can cook with this curry sauce but for this instance, I used mussels which is one of my favourite shellfish. The mussels are resilient to the fragrant and deep flavours of the chu chi sauce. It is great to eat with a side of rice, roti, or on its own. It is spicy but allows you to taste the beautiful flavour combinations.
Serves 2-4 as starter or light main dish
1kg fresh mussels, cleaned
2 shallots, sliced
200-250ml coconut milk
1-2 tbsp coconut sugar, can use normal castor sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce, add more if needed
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Pinch of salt
Red curry paste
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
1 tsp black peppercorns
5-10 whole fried red chilli, soak in warm water for 20-30 mins until soft
4-5 garlic cloves
1-2 banana shallots, sliced
1½ tbsp fermented shrimp paste
½-1 bunch Thai sweet basil leaves
3-4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade
1 big fresh red chilli, diagonally sliced
1. Wash mussels in cold water and remove beards. Mussells should be closed. Discard any shells which are cracked. For those shells which are open, tap on the surface to see if it closes. Wait for half a minute. If it does not close, this means that they are dead, and therefore discard them. Place mussels in bowl, cover with damp kitchen towel, and place on the third bottom shelf in fridge until needed.
2. For the red curry paste, place coriander seeds and cumin seeds in pan. Heat up until fragrant, and allow to cool. Then in mortar and pestle (or can use a coffee grinder), add black peppercorn, then grind until it is a powder. For the dried red chillis, squeeze excess water after having been soaked in water. If you have a food processor, place all ingredients and process into a fine paste. Or of you have a mortar and pestle, add cumin, coriander, and black peppercorns and bash until powder. Bash dried chillis until smooth, add garlic and shallots, and bash until smooth. Finally, add shrimp paste and bash all ingredients together into a smooth paste.
3. Have a large deep saucepan ready. Slice shallots, heat up saucepan to medium heat, add shallots, pinch of salt, and cook until soften (do not burn). Then add paste and fry until fragrant. Add 100ml coconut milk, add sugar, and place the mussels in the pan. Give a quick stir and close lid. Shake the pan with the lid to evenly cook over stove. When mussels all open this means it is finished. If there are a few that are closed, discard as they may be dead. Whole cooking time should be 5-10 mins. Add more coconut milk if you would like more sauce. If needed, season with fish sauce and sugar to taste.
4. To serve, pick basil leaves, slice the fresh red chilli, and chiffonade kaffir lime leaves. Place mussels in the bowl with the sauce, and scatter the herbs on top. Amazing!