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Need a recipe to inspire you? Read on…
Back when I was a poor uni student, I indulged in mussels as a culinary upgrade from instant noodles. I would steam a kilo of mussels in a pot, add a little sweet chill sauce and coconut cream and serve with bread to mop up the juices. It was a treat. Delicious. Affordable. Minimal effort. Sweet chilli sauce goes so well with mussels and ever since, I’ve kept sweet chilli sauce on hand as a pantry staple.
NZ green-lipped mussels are giant compared to other mussels. Some are as large as my hand…though I admit, I have quite small hands. Because they are so big, they have enough strength to hold tightly to their beards making them hard to pull out. My hack is to remove the beards after they’re cooked. They come away easily and are much kinder to your hands.
Ranging from $3 to $5 per kg and available year round, live mussels are the freshest seafood you can buy at the supermarket. 1 kg of live mussels yields about a third its weight in mussel meat and can feed 2 as a main or 4 in a soup. I used 20 mussels in this recipe. If they’re a bit small, grab a few extra, if they’re a bit big, perhaps 16 will do. If you are using mussel meat only (out of the shell), allow at least 300 grams of chopped meat for this recipe.
I particularly love this dish as it’s budget conscious and has a short ingredients list. Trident’s Sweet Chilli Sauce and coconut cream adds a little tropical warmth and sweetness and is great for winter.
This soup is filling so it’s totally fine serve on it’s own or with roti if you prefer.
Thai coconut mussel and kumara chowder
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 onions, peeled and diced
- 1 kg live mussels (approx 20 mussels)
- 2 tablespoons Trident sweet chill sauce
- 1/4 cup coconut cream
- 2-3 kumara, peeled and cubed
- 1 litre water
- A handful of fresh coriander or parsley
- 1 fresh red chilli, thinly sliced
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan. Add diced onions and fry for 2-3 minutes stirring to ensure even cooking. Add kumara and 1 litre boiled water. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until kumara is tender.
- While the kumara is cooking, scrub mussels in running water and place in a large pot, without any extra water, the water clinging to the mussels is enough. Cover with a lid and place on the stove on high heat for 5-7 minutes until all mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that do not open after 10 minutes. Using tongs, place mussels one by one in a bowl or colander to cool. Strain and reserve the liquid, discarding any grit.
- Once mussels are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the beards. Select the 4 best looking mussels* and their shells to use as garnish. Remove the remaining mussels from the shells and roughly chop. Reserve until required.
- Take kumara off heat and whizz through with a stick blender. Stir in the chopped mussels, sweet chilli sauce and coconut cream. Add enough of the strained mussel cooking liquid to desired soup thickness. Season to taste. Place back on medium heat until mussels are warmed through.
- Serve garnished with a whole mussel, fresh herb, fresh chilli and ground black pepper.
* I prefer to use orange fleshed mussels for this as they add a nice pop of colour. Orange mussels indicate mature females. White mussels indicate male or immature females.