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No, I still don’t like curries. One of the very few dishes that revolt me, out there with mushy peas, kale, barley and any veiny, tendony, gelatinous meat. Eurgh. Yuck.
It must be the combination of the spices that create the curry flavour that rub me the wrong way. Admittedly, I am also slightly suspicious of chunks of meat so covered in sauce I can’t see what I’m eating (see: above, veiny bits), but then I love osso buco, steak pie and stroganoff – so we’re back to the wrong flavour.
But there is a time and place for everything (except mushy peas) and there are food combinations where I accept, welcome or even applaud a bit of curry powder. Fish and seafood: I love a dish of spiced monkfish; slightly bland, un-fishy fish flavoured with a bit of turmeric and cumin; not too much, just to make it more interesting.
And mussels are another such dish: I make up my own paste as I’m not keen enough for the authentic ones. A little chili powder – it’s not the heat, it’s the smell that’s an issue – turmeric and coriander, and mussels take on another dimension.
- 1kg (2 pounds) mussels
- a few strands of saffron
- 1 tsp gochugaru or mild chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground coriander (or 3 tsp. curry powder instead of the three above spices)
- ½ tsp ground ginger (add regardless of curry powder)
- 3 tbsp. crème fraiche
- a bunch of fat spring onions
- 1 large red chilli
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp. oil
1. Sling the mussels brutally into the sink – the ones that have started opening but are still alive will close promptly. Scrub and de-beard the mussels, discard the ones that are smashed or won’t close. If not cooking straight away, put them in a bowl covered with a damp kitchen towel and store in the fridge. They’ll keep for a day or two.
2. Spoon the crème fraiche to a small bowl and stir all the spices into it.
3. Quarter the white parts of the spring onions and chop the green parts. Finely chop the chilli, seeds and all, and finely chop the garlic.
4. Prepare a large pan to easily hold all the mussels. Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat, add the onions and sweat for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the garlic and chilli and stir fry for a minute. Add the spiced crème fraiche and cook for another minute.
5. Turn the heat up to high so the sauce bubbles fiercely and immediately add the mussels. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for a few minutes stirring once or twice.
6. Turn the heat off when they start to open up and stir well to coat the mussels in the sauce. Serve with crusty bread or fries.