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Monday, July 6, 2009

Chilli con Yum

We now take off from where my last post ended up, with me strolling back home with a kilo of mussels tucked under my arm after eating breakfast at Kailis Bros Fish Cafe. Well, perhaps I actually drove home with the mussels in a plastic bag this image isn't quite so merry so let's pretend I skipped home, accompanied by the happy clap of the mussel shells as they had a mussel jamboree on the way.

The mussels and I were not reacquainted until the following night when I gave them a nice beard trim and a wash, and we were really starting to have a good time. Then one of them had to go and say something about one of the others being nothing but a filter feeder and it all got a bit ugly very quickly. Shells were snapping wildly and barnacles were flying. For my own safety I did the only thing I could and threw them all into a pot of simmering chilli that I happened to have on the stove. Thank god it was there.

Chilli mussels, fish and prawns, finished off with the obligatory sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan, and served with toasted rosemary & olive bread and a sesame seaweed salad

Chilli Mussels Mix

Based on my brother-in-law's (yes, the one who I'm lucky enough to score lots of tasty freshly caught fish from) famous chilli mussels recipe. Cheers D! And thanks for all the fish :D

Makes enough to feed 8-10 people with seafood and sides


3 onions, finely diced
8 red capsicum, finely diced
5 red birds eye chillis, deseeded and finely diced
1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
Generous Tb garlic, minced
Generous Tb ginger, minced
Small bunch Thai/sweet basil leaves, chopped
Small bunch sage leaves, chopped
Bunch chives, chopped
1.5 Tb brown sugar
1.5 Tb honey
1 Tb lime juice
Decent splash of soy sauce
Decent splash of Worchestershire sauce
Dried mixed herbs
3 tin crushed tomatoes
2 decent glasses dry white wine


1. Heat a good splash of olive oil and knob of butter in a large saucepan over a medium high heat.
2. Add onion, cooking until a little soft.
3. Add capsicum, sautéing until the onions and capsicum have gone nice and soft.
4. Add chillis, garlic and ginger, stirring through well and allowing to cook off a little.
5. Add the fresh herbs, brown sugar, lime juice, soy, Worchestershire, honey, tomatoes, wine and a few shakes of the mixed herbs, stirring through well.
6. Allow to simmer gently for at least 20 minutes before taking off the heat and leaving for an indeterminate period of time before using...
7. Before using the mix for your dish, bring it back up to a simmer and give it a decent going over with a stick blender to thicken it up and make it more creamy/less chunky. I like to perhaps blend about half of it, leaving some chunks of capsicum and onion but this is up to you. Also, have a good taste of it before adding your mussels/protein. You may want to tweak the flavours a little (a little more honey, or more mixed herbs).
8. This mix works really well with any type of seafood. I like to include some chunks of fish and some prawns, if I am lucky enough to have a well stocked freezer, with the mussels.

  • This mix really does benefit from being made well in advance and allowing the flavours to develop. On this particular occasion I made it the night before, left it in the fridge overnight and the next day, and then reheated it up for dinner. I was only serving three people so I only reheated half of the mix, popping the remainder into ziplock bags in the freezer to use for other dishes.
  • There was one meal's worth of chilli seafood left over from our dinner, which my housemate ingeniously turned into a lovely paella-style dish with some rice and some chicken that needed eating the next day.
I normally just buy my mussels from the big mound of them at the fish market, but the ones I bought for this dish were actually a kilo bag of Boston Bay mussels from Boston Bay in South Australia. At $8 or $9 a kilo they are more expensive than the alternative, but the beauty of them is that they are debearded and cleaned, and basically ready to use. I rinsed them off and gave them a going over before using them (a couple still had beards, and a couple needed a little bit more of a clean) but there was none of the usual scrubbing and debearding that is normally required when cooking piles o' mussels. Too easy! I'll happily pay the extra few dollars for the added convenience. They were really nice mussels too.


Cookie July 8, 2009 at 12:21 AM  

Thanks for the congrats! Now THOSE are celebration-sized shrimp! Sounds like a spicy and yummy seafood feast!

Chocolate Cardamom Cappuccino July 10, 2009 at 11:01 PM  

These were delicious I made them with just the mussels as I hate shrimps or prawns but they were delicious I shall be making them again.

Conor July 11, 2009 at 5:27 PM  

Cookie - Indeed! We obviously shop at the same mutant fishmongers.

CCC - I'm so glad to hear that! Hooray!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 18, 2009 at 8:15 PM  

How healthy and delicious! Hehe those mussels really like to argue don't they! :P

Conor @ HoldtheBeef September 21, 2009 at 9:24 AM  

Lorraine, there was really only one thing to do with those pesky mussels!

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