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Mussels, lime & chilli butter in arrack
- 1kg mussels
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 10g garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 20g coriander stalk, finely chopped
- a handful of curry leaves (if possible)
- 250ml arrack
- 3 tsp kithul treacle or maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp chilli butter (see below)
- juice of 1 lime
- pinch of sea salt
- a handful of coriander leaves
Not native to Sri Lanka however super-cheap, quick and easy to make. Buy your mussels live and shut tight from your local fishmonger. Store before use in a cool, damp place – the sink. This way you can clean them, by removing the barnacles and beards, in a self-contained, no-mess cool box. Rinse the mussels under cold water, removing the beards by pulling them sharply towards you. Discard the shells that don’t close when tapped with a knife.
Heat the coconut oil in a large pan (with a lid). Once hot, add the garlic, shallot, coriander stalk and curry leaves and sizzle for a couple of minutes. Add the mussels, give the pan a good shake and cook for a minute. Add the arrack, treacle or syrup and turmeric and then immediately cover the pan with a lid and let it steam.
Cook for 5 minutes, giving the pan a good shake. Check the mussels have opened and add the chilli butter to emulsify the liquid, add the lime juice and salt, and finish with the chopped coriander. Discard any shells that haven’t opened.
Serve the mussels with fresh pol roti.
- 250g salted butter, softened
- 4 red bird’s-eye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 15g garlic, peeled (optional)
Chilli butter is great for so many things: eggs, stir-fried mushrooms, roast sea bass, corn on cob. You can roast the chillies if you want to make smoked chilli butter. This can keep in the fridge for weeks and the flavour only deepens and improves. Tamarind butter goes with most roast white fish, clams, scallops and game birds. Even roast cherries roasted in brown sugar. Put everything in a blender or mix with a whisk in a bowl. Store in a plastic container in the fridge.