Sometimes, when we book into a restaurant, I'll use a pseudonym. I say sometimes because this only tends to work when you remember the pseudonym that you book under and there have been many a time when I've forgotten the name that I've booked something under. I stand there saying "Oh yes I have a reservation under the name Dorothy... or was it Anastasia?" and I reel off a list of names while the maitre'd looks at me as if there were a live case of Sybil standing in front of them.
I tend to stick with a few names. My current favourites are Anastasia Beaverhausen (Karen Walker's pseudonym on Will and Grace) or Dorothy Zbornak (from the Golden Girls) or Dorothy Michaels (aka Tootsie). I just hope that they don't have a television or movie diet like mine that peaked in the 80's and 90's. So far nobody has questioned any of them...well that is until I forget my name...
Anyway, I have a recipe for you that might have you forgetting your name. Or at least muttering something biblical or religious it's that good. This is the curry sauce recipe that launched a thousand licks. Really, I should explain. When we visited Fish D'Vine in the Whitsundays, they set down some mud crab with an incredible sauce that you just couldn't help but lick off every surface of the crab. The empty shell? Yes, I picked that up and licked it better than Gene Simmons. I was smitten by the sauce, a fragrant, sweet and spicy sauce that was unlike any other I had tried before. So I asked the chef and restaurateur Kev and amazingly, he furnished us with the recipe. And you wouldn't believe what was in it...
Live black mussels
I couldn't wait to make it-I had some kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass and I bought the rest of the ingredients. Surprisingly there was the addition of a Rogan Josh spice paste as well as sweet chilli sauce and I loved Kev's instructions on the negotiable ingredients like galangal versus the non negotiables like full fat coconut cream or nothing. His instructions were so clear and perfect that I left his recipe as it was so the recipe has a slightly different structure from mine.
I didn't make mud crab-that's another challenge for me to take up at another time but I did make a curry using prawns and live black mussels which were perfect. If you've ever had the inclination to make your own curry, let this one be it! And yes this is one of those pushy recipes where I push you to make something. Even if you don't like seafood, this is great on chicken or even tofu or vegetables or chicken or pork (I've tried it on everything!). Even self confessed lazy eater Mr NQN licked every surface of the mussel shells slurping and eating eagerly before wiping his hands on several napkins and falling back exhausted and spent. I don't think he could even remember his name...
So tell me Dear Reader, if you could choose a pseudonym, what would it be?
Kev's Amazing Grace Curry
- One large brown onion, peeled and roughly diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
- 1 thumb size piece of galangal (optional)
- 3 large red chillis (not the little hot buggers)
- the washed roots and stalks of a fist size bunch of corriander
- 4 kaffir lime leaves (NOT optional)
Blitz with a little oil to a paste or bang away in a mortar and pestle if you must.
Hot fry in a wok till starting to colour. Add
- 1/4 jar of Rogan Josh Curry paste (careful here, do not use ..simmer sauce PASTE, we use Pataks)
Stir in over heat till it is really starting to release its great oils and smells. Then add
- 50 grams/1.7 ozs dark palm sugar
That's this stuff, much darker than the kind that you get at the supermarket. I had to go to an Asian grocery store to get this but it's got so much caramel flavour it's fantastic!
Stir the sugar in until dissolved. Then add
- 500 ml coconut Cream (if you must use anything LITE .stop now)
- 200 ml/7 fl ozs. sweet chilli sauce
- 50 ml/1.7 fl ozs. fish sauce
- Juice of 3 limes
- 2 stalks crushed lemon grass
- Rough chopped leaves of the coriander
Bring to boil and slow simmer for 15 minutes, remove and discard lemon grass. Then add your seafood or chicken. I used
- 300g/10 ozs. king or tiger prawns, shelled, deveined and split up the back
- 500g/1 pound live black mussels (these are smaller and very tender)
The beard that you remove from the mussels
The small muscle that is attached to the beard
Step 1 - Storing the mussels: as they are alive they need to breathe so store them in the fridge in an open container covered with a damp teatowel or damp paper towels. Use them within 24 hours of buying. Wash the mussels under cold water until the water runs clear. Then if there are any bits of the beard poking out, remove them by tugging them. The mussels should be tightly closed and tugging the beards require a swift little tug. Discard any open ones as they are no longer alive.
Step 2 - Add the mussels to the curry sauce along with the prawns and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 8-10 minutes. The mussels should open up and the prawns should be cooked through and still succulent. Discard any mussels that haven't opened and serve with boiled rice.