The Big Boys Curry Book

Konkani Mussels

Westerners are not allowed into the Lingaraj Temple, but you can view it quite easily from outside

This recipe is my recollection of a dish that I was treated to by an Indian friend, who owns the Hawaii bar on Benaulim beach, on a trip to Goa very many years ago. "Do you like mussels?" said Michael, "I do" says I. "Let's go then!" says he. Off on the back of his Enfield 350, we rode the 20km from Benaulim over the high coast road to Cortalim where the road crosses the Zuvari River. Michael stopped the bike at the side of the road on the bridge approach and led me down to a roadside cafe where we ordered beers and food. The mussels arrived, large juicy fresh ones collected that morning from the river, quickly dusted in a crunchy coating and fried briskly. Just the job for elevenses! We ordered extra to take back for my family. Thanks Michael. This is my version of the dish and the measurements are approximate. British mussels are smaller than their Indian counterpart and can be left whole. If you have access to the large Green Lipped variety from New Zealand and elsewhere or similar then you can 'butterfly' them by making a slit down the length of the flesh and opening them out. I give amounts per person.

Ingredients

  • 12 large or more if smaller, fresh mussels. (see note below)
  • 4 tblsp. Dried Semolina
  • 1/8 tspn. Salt
  • 1/4 tspn. Fresh Black Pepper, crushed.
  • 1/4 tspn. Turmeric.
  • 1/4 tspn. Kashmiri (or other mild) chilli powder.
  • 2 tblspn. oil.

Method

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Bring a big pan of about 1 inch (2.5cm) well salted water to boil and drop in mussels. Put on lid and bring back to boil. Give a shake. Remove lid and keep mussels turning. When they have opened drain in colander. You are looking to just 'set' them, rather than cook them fully. i.e 1 minute, not 5 minutes. Allow to cool, but first remove any clearly unopened mussels.
  3. Using a sharp knife, slice through the foot of each mussel and scoop out the flesh. Place on a clean plate.
  4. Heat oil in a heavy frying pan until hot enough to sizzle some of the semolina mixture when dropped in.
  5. Roll mussels in the semolina mixture and then drop into frying pan. Spread out in pan and flatten out the mussels by pressing with a spatula. Allow to fry for 30 - 60 seconds dependent on size and then flip them over, frying quickly on the other side for 5 - 15 seconds. Do not overcook as mussels will become rubbery.
  6. Remove mussels on to absorbent paper and then serve as a finger snack with a glass of dry white wine or chilled beer.

Note on preparation of mussels.

Like all shell fish you must make sure that you are using fresh live ones. Enquire from the vendor how old they are. Mussels bought in a UK supermarket are usually fresh that morning and are safe if left in the fridge (not a freezer) for up to 24 hours. Wrapping them in newspaper protects them from getting a cold shock. Prior to using, wash mussels in fresh cool water. Give them a stir. Now discard any that remain gaping open, they are dead. I do not bother discarding ones that remain slightly open as these tend to be the bigger ones, but if you are at all uncertain, chuck them out. If you have never eaten mussels and are put off by the health warning, do not be. I have been eating them for 40 years and have never had a dodgy stomach just by observing the above guidelines.

You can prepare this dish without steaming the mussels open first but this is best done when you are absolutely sure of their age and they are big ones. Simply follow cleaning guidelines above. Using a strong short knife, cut through the hinge and scoop out the flesh onto a clean plate. Continue from step 4 above.

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