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Curry mussels & shrimp

February 20, 2012

There are practically limitless ways to prepare mussels. There are an awful lot of ways to prepare curry mussels. There are quick and easy ways–the weeknight variety. Then there are some more involved ways which take a bit longer to prepare, but are very rewarding to make (and eat). This is one of those. Curry from a can makes a nice meal too. I’ll do it that way next time.

Every time I make these, they’re a little different. If you haven’t made your own curry before, the list of ingredients might seem a bit lengthy. You can skip some and still end up with a great dish. I routinely forget some. You’ll need the spices turmeric, coriander, cumin and some kind of chili. This recipe benefits from the onion and tomatoes, and you’ll probably want garlic and ginger. Add some kind of protein, and either wine or stock for steaming (if you’re making mussels) and you’re off to the races.

This is a pretty mild curry. If you like things spicier, you probably know how to fix that 🙂

Curry mussels & shrimp

2-3 lbs mussels, cleaned, beards trimmed if necessary
1/2-lb raw shrimp, shelled
1 tsp each turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin seeds
1/2 tsp each cayenne pepper, mustard seeds, garam masala
olive oil for frying
1 med. onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
4 pods star anise
1 stick cinnamon
2 med. tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup tamarind paste
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1/4 white wine
heavy cream (optional)
several sprigs fresh cilantro
a nice baguette for dipping

1. You don‘t have to, but it’s nice to toast the spices. In a dry pan over medium heat, add the coriander, cumin and mustard seeds. Stir them frequently until they’re just starting to cook. Add the ground spices (turmeric, cayenne, masala) and cook a little longer. Get them out of the pan before they burn. You should grind them in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Or you can use the flat side of a large knife to break up the coriander seeds at minimum. Of course, you can use ground spices instead of the seeds and skip that step.

2. In a large saute pan or dutch over, warm some olive oil over just-about-medium heat. Add the onions and cook rather slowly, trying not to brown them. This could take about ten minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook a couple minutes longer, stirring frequently. Increase the heat to medium. Add the spices from before, the bay leaf, star anise, and cinnamon and give it a good stir.

3. Throw in the shrimp and cook until they’re fully pink. Them scoop them out and put them aside. Don’t worry if they take some of your spices with them.

4. Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid is gone from them. Then add the tamarind paste, stock and wine. Increase heat to medium-highish.

5. Add the mussels. You want to steam them mostly with the lid on, but you also want to move them around frequently. I won’t add mussel preparation tips here, except to say you want all the mussels closed when you put them in the pot, and open when you take them out. Some cookbooks say they’re done as soon as they all open. I like to cook them a little longer than that. When they look almost but not quite done to the consistency I want, I take them off the heat. They’ll continue cooking for another minute or two.

6. Put the shrimp back in and give them a good stir. You can add a couple glugs of cream at this point if you want your sauce that way. Throw in the cilantro, scoop into bowls (make sure everyone gets some sauce), serve the bread for dipping and bask in the praise of your guests.

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