Friday, March 20, 2009
As much as I love cooking, eating out is a real treat. Of course it is lovely to have someone else prepare a wonderful meal for me, but it also reminds me of an artist visiting an art museum. It provides inspiration and insight into new techniques and flavor combinations that I would have never come up with on my own.
We recently had the pleasure of dining at the most excellent Abba Restaurant in Orleans. If you're in the neighborhood, I highly recommend it.
The chef, Erez Pinhas, combines the Pan-Mediterranean flavors of his native Israel with elements of Thai cuisine in a fusion that is sophisticated and unique. Our whole meal was simply sublime, but one appetizer was especially tempting to try at home.
Pinhas made a dish of Thai steamed mussels with green peppers, coconut and basil cooked in curry and coconut milk broth. Total yum in every bite, with tender mussels and a spicy sweet broth.
When I tried to recreate the dish, I substituted red peppers for green peppers because I like them better, and I played with the sauce until it tasted just right. (I find it's better to start with less and add more with flavorful ingredients like curry paste and fish sauce when you're working without a recipe.)
I was thrilled with the results on my first try! This recipe only takes about 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish. It's a one pot meal that's elegant enough to serve to company.
I’ve made it twice so far and our oldest daughter Jess also made it for dinner for two of her best girlfriends. They loved it so much they wanted the recipe too. So Ryan and Kelly, this one’s for you.
When I make it, I use fresh pineapple, sliced like this:
Jess made it with canned pineapple because that’s what she had and she said that it was still very good. Add a salad and some nice crusty bread and this "appetizer" becomes an easy main course.
Thai Inspired Mussels
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 dozen fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup red bell pepper slices, julienne size
1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
1 (14 ounce) can of lite coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh pineapple, sliced into matchsticks
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed with beards removed
Heat olive oil in heavy Dutch oven over medium low heat. Fry basil in oil until crisp, turning once (about 2 minutes per side). Drain on paper towel. Add garlic and ginger and red pepper slices and cook over medium low heat for 3 minutes, until crisp tender.
Add red curry paste to Dutch oven and stir with a whisk until evenly spread out in bottom of the pan. Pour coconut milk into pan. Add fish sauce and salt and whisk until well blended. Return fried basil to pan and bring to a bubbling simmer over medium heat. Add mussels and cook until mussels all are open, about 5 minutes.
For a printable recipe click here