Curried Mussels

May 5, 2009

Playwrights are like men who have been dining for a month in an Indian restaurant. After eating curry night after night, they deny the existence of asparagus.
~Peter Ustinov

CURRIED MUSSELS

2 T canola or peanut oil
1 stalk lemongrass, crushed
4 plump garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
3 T Thai red curry paste
1 C white wine, preferably somewhat sweet or fruity
13.5 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
1 T fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 lbs. mussels, debearded and scrubbed
4 T fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
4 T fresh basil, chopped

On medium high, heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven until hot but not burning. Add the lemongrass, garlic, curry paste, white wine, coconut milk, nam pla, and lime juice and bring to a simmer, whisking until well blended. As always, do not burn the garlic. Add the mussels, cover the pot, and let steam until opened. At the end of the cooking process, finish with the cilantro and basil.

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Hae mul pa jun, hae mool pa jun, haemul pajun, hae mul pa jeon, haemool-pahjun, haemul jun. This scallion pancake is a flat delectable app and speaks to the Korean sea culture. I tend to make both dipping sauces, fine balances between sweet, spice and acid—as they can be used with other dishes, fishes, finger foods and keep fairly well in the fridge for a day or two.

HAE MUL PA JUN

2 C all purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-2 T canola oil
1 1/2 C cold water

6 scallions, green parts only, cut into 3 inch lengths and sliced lengthwise
8 chopped scallions
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 small to medium zucchini, trimmed and grated
6 oz fresh squid, cleaned, rinsed and thinly chopped
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, rinsed and chopped

In a medium bowl, mix flour, eggs and oil with water until a smooth batter is formed. It should be a tad thinner than traditional buttermilk pancake batter. Stir chives, carrots, zucchini, shrimp and squid into batter.

Place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, then coat bottom with oil. Ladle in about a quarter of the batter and spread it out evenly into a circle; if first pancake is too thick to spread easily, add a little water to batter for remaining pancakes. Turn heat to medium and cook until bottom is browned, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

As each batch of pancakes finishes, remove and drain on paper towels.

Cut pancakes into triangular wedges and serve with dipping sauces.

RICE VINEGAR & SOY DIPPING SAUCE
1 T rice vinegar
3 T soy sauce
1 t sugar
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t sesame seeds

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes and sesame seeds.

RED CURRY PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE

1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
1 T brown sugar

2 to 3 t Thai red curry paste
8 to 10 T water
2 t peanut or vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 C finely chopped shallot (about 1 large)
2 fresh Thai or serrano chilies, including seeds, thinly sliced crosswise

Finely grind 3 tablespoons peanuts in a food processor along with brown sugar. Finely chop remaining tablespoon peanuts by hand.

Stir together curry paste (to taste) and 6 tablespoons water until paste is dissolved.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté garlic, shallot, and chiles, stirring, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add ground peanut mixture and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in curry mixture and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chopped peanuts.

Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, then thin with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency.