I’m always on the lookout to cook food inspired by and incorporating fresh, local and (ideally) home grown produce.
Last week’s gin and tonic tart was made with straight-off-the-tree lemons from the garden of my friend Deneil, whose home I was housesitting while she was overseas on a business trip.
In similar fashion, I was inspired by the blossoming kaffir lime tree on her balcony to use their fresh leaves in a dish.
Often used in South-East Asian cuisine, the plant is characterised by its unusual dark green, glossy ‘double’ leaves.
I haven’t ever come across a recipe that includes the fruit itself (very knobbly looking things – think limes with a skin condition) but the leaves are used to add an aromatic citrus flavour to dishes.
The original recipe for these mussels suggests serving the shellfish with thin wheat noodles (similar to vermicelli) but I served mine with small bowls of rice to soak up the beautifully fragrant coconut broth.
kaffir lime & coconut steamed mussels
adapted from the july 2015 issue of delicious. magazine
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 eschallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, 2 left whole for cooking and 2 thinly shredded for serving
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
2 tsp palm sugar, grated (substitute brown sugar if needed)
2 tsp fish sauce
400ml can coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
1kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
3 small red chillies
1 bunch coriander, washed and leaves picked
In a wok or large saucepan with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat.
Add the eschallots and cook, stirring, for several minutes until softened and translucent.
Add the garlic, grated ginger and whole kaffir lime leaves.
Cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant, stirring frequently to ensure the ingredients don’t stick to the pan.
Add the palm sugar, fish sauce, coconut milk and lime juice. Bring to a simmer, then add the mussels and cover with a lid (the wok I used didn’t have a fitted lid so I used a large saucepan – inverted – to cover and seal in the mussels).
Cook, shaking the pan, for 2 – 3 minutes until the mussels have opened. Gently stir through the chilli.
Divide the mussels among deep serving bowls and ladle the coconut broth over the top.
Scatter with coriander leaves and shredded kaffir lime leaves to serve.