1. Before we begin to cook, this is one of those dishes that is best to do all the prep before hand. Let’s start off with preparing the mussels, there’s nothing worse than eating mussels that have not been properly cleaned. Add approximately 1.5kg of fresh mussels to a large bowl full of cold water. Next using a small pairing knife carefully scrape off any unwanted barnacles attached to the shell then remove the small hairy ‘beards’ that are also attached. Rinse under cold water again and repeat for each mussel. When clean place all of the mussels to one side.
2. Next we want to move onto the aromats that will form the base of the chilli sauce. This can either be done in a food processor or by hand, however, I prefer to finely chop for a bit of texture. Mince 4 garlic cloves and 5g of ginger then peel and finely chop 2 shallots. For the chillies slice in half then also finely slice leaving the seeds in if you want a little more heat. When all prepared place separately onto a tray as we will add each ingredient at different stages.
3. All that’s left to prepare now before cooking is the chilli sauce. I find it easier to make this up opposed to adding the ingredients individually whilst cooking as we can manage the balance of the sauce more. In a small mixing bowl add 3 tbsp sweet chilli, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tsp shrimp paste, 1 tsp fermented soy bean (optional), 2 tbsp of rice wine, 3 tbsp of rice vinegar and 2 tbsp of shaved palm sugar. Mix all of the ingredients well until the sugar dissolves then adjust the seasoning if needed. We are looking for this sauce to be slightly sweet, salty, spicy and sour. When ready place the sauce to one side and we are ready to cook.
4. Place a large pan or wok onto a high heat, when hot add add a drizzle of oil then add all of the chopped shallots. Fry the shallots for 1 minute then when fragrant add the chopped garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for a further 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
5. Now that we have the base nice and fragrant we can now add all of the sauce that was made up earlier. Mix well then reduce the sauce by half to intensify. When ready add approximately 100mls of water then reduce again by half.
6. When the chilli sauce has reduced by half again its at this point where we want to add the mussels. Add all of the mussels to the sauce then place a tight fitting lid over the top. Cook the mussels for 2 minutes or until all of the mussels have completely opened up from the shell. When cooked use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels from the sauce into a fresh bowl and allow the broth to continue to reduce. Removing the mussels at this point will prevent them from over cooking.
7. Now the mussels are cooked we want to move back to the broth to season and finish. To slightly thicken the broth, dilute 1 tbsp of cornflour with a few drops of water in a small bowl. Slowly add the diluted cornflour to the sauce to thicken. We are looking for a consistency where the sauce can just about coat the back of a spoon, when ready season the broth with some salt and a drop of rice vinegar then remove the broth from the heat. Finish the broth by adding 1 whisked whole egg then stir continuously so that the egg incorporates and starts to form a ribbon into the chilli sauce. The sauce when finished should almost look like an egg drop soup.
8. Now to serve, place the cooked mussels into a serving bowl then generously ladle the hot broth all over the top. Finish the mussels with some sliced spring onion, coriander, some minced fried garlic and chilli oil for a little extra finesse…These mussels work perfectly with some steamed mantou or bread on the side. Hope you like this super simple but delicious dish!
Cook Time: 15 minutes / Prep Time: 25-30 minutes