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Be inspired every day with Living North
Ariel view of Mussel Hodi HOPPERS: The Cookbook by Karan Gokani (Quadrille, £30) Photography: Ryan Wijayaratne
January 2023
Reading time 2 Minutes
Mussels are one of those underrated, great value, sustainable products that ought to be used a lot more. Clams and cockles are popular in stir-fries and curries back home, but I prefer the sweeter, plumper mussels and find any opportunity I can to cook with them. They are easy to prepare and cook, plus cost a fraction of what you’d pay for a lot of other shellfish. I first cooked this dish at an event held at a friend’s pub; it was meant to be a Sri Lankan take on the classic Moules Frites. The dish was so popular that we ended up introducing it on our menu at our Kings Cross restaurant.
4 (as a starter or part of a spread)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 9cm cinnamon stick
  • 165g red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 lemongrass sticks, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 12–15 curry leaves
  • ¾ tsp ground turmeric
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 2 green chillies, halved lengthways
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 600g live mussels, washed and beards removed (see note)
  • juice of ½ lime

Heat the oil in a large, lidded saucepan over a medium heat. Add the fenugreek and cinnamon and fry for 30 seconds, then add the onion, garlic, lemongrass and curry leaves and continue to cook for two minutes, stirring regularly until soft but not coloured. Add the turmeric and cook for a further 15 seconds, stirring to ensure it doesn’t catch and burn. Stir in the coconut milk and green chillies, bring to a simmer and leave to cook gently for four minutes, being careful not to let it boil.

Taste the sauce and season to taste, leaving it under-seasoned to allow for the salty mussels. With the sauce on a high simmer, add the mussels to the pan, cover with a lid and leave to cook for two to three minutes. Shake the pan every 30 seconds or so; this will help the mussels to cook and open evenly. After three minutes, discard any remaining mussels that have not opened and stir through the lime juice. Garnish with chilli oil and samphire sambol, before serving immediately with rice or by itself.

NOTE: Prepare the mussels before cooking by rinsing well in clean water and scrubbing away any grit from the surface, then pulling away the beards. Check for any mussels that are open and discard any that won’t close when given a sharp tap on the worktop. If you want to get ahead, you can prepare this recipe up to the end of step one and keep the sauce chilled in the fridge. Heat it up when you’re ready to cook the mussels.

HOPPERS: The Cookbook by Karan Gokani (Quadrille, £30) Photography: Ryan Wijayaratne

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