Now that I live near the sea, I can eat fish all the time! For all of my fish needs I normally head to the Haagse Markt, or Hague Market, which is a delightful place. After Porta Palazzo in Turin, I didn’t imagine any market could ever be as good as that. The Haagse Markt… isn’t, to be quite honest. But it’s still really really good. It’s big, it’s got loud, shouting people, and much like Porta Palazzo, the produce there is not offered on a price-per-kilo basis, but on a “you can get this much for a euro” basis, which I always find kind of convenient.
I love going to the Haagse Markt not only for the delicious produce (think avocados), but also because I am actually secretly but probably pretty blatanty madly in love with the boy who works at one of the fish stalls. A mad looker, and so polite. He’s sort of North-African-looking, with those large hazel eyes and dark, wavy hair. And then he’ll open his gob and, with the broadest Hague accent I’ve ever heard, call out from behind the counter “WHAT CAN I GET YA TODAY LOVE, TURBOT MAYBE? TURBOT ONLY 8 EUROS, TURBOT TURBOTURBOTURBOT COME GET ‘EM”. Love that guy.
So now that the R is back in the month, mussels are in season again, so I got some the other day. I love mussels. There’s so much you can do with them. In Italy it was usually garlic and tomato, but I live in Holland now, so I can do whatever I want. The classical version around here is leek, onion and carrot, but the limes were going for 1 euro a bucket this week, so I went for something more exotic – mussels in spicy coconut sauce!
For 2, use:
- 1 kg mussels
- 250 ml coconut milk
- 1 lime – zest and juice
- 1 cm of fresh ginger, in thin slices
- 1 stalk of lemon grass, halved lengthways
- 3 cloves of garlic, smashed but not crushed or chopped
- 1 red chili
- 1 heaped tsp of turmeric
- 3 spring onions
- a handful of fresh coriander
First of all, wash your mussels. Check they’re all good, take out any ones that are broken or open (if you find one that’s only a little open, try to close it by banging it against your chopping board). If it’s easily opened by hand (i.e. if you apply pressure with your thumb and index finger, and the two halves slide apart easily), chuck it out. Remove the funky creature that attach themselves to the shell (but I don’t know what they’re called). Rinse the mussels well so that any sand or dirt comes off.
Now grab yourself a big-ass pot and chuck in you coconut milk, ginger, turmeric, garlic, lemon grass, lime zest, and bring the whole thing to a quiet boil. Once it’s going bubbly, turn down the heat somewhat and add the mussels. Put on a lid and cook the mussels, this won’t take more than 10 minutes. You can stir them about a little bit if you fancy. The mussels are done when they’re open enough for you to see the mussel properly.
Use a skimmer to remove the mussels, put them in a bowl or dish with a lid on to keep them warm. Now we’re going to finish the sauce!
Add half of the chili (chopped), the juice of half your lime, and half your spring onions (chopped). Turn up the heat, stir, and wait 5 minutes for your sauce to dense up a bit.
Serve with white rice, and top with the rest of your chopped chili (seeds removed!), spring onion and fresh coriander!