Cape Horn, 23.12.1978; mussels with coconut, chilli and sesame broth

The day before Christmas Ever – 1979, we stopped at Cape Horn on our way to Antarctic. My boss came out to me in the galley and told me to get dressed – we where going ashore. Going ashore on Cape Horn ??????!!!!

Have seen Cape Horn in a couple of movies before and was expecting this massive evil rock with an angry ocean beating it to death. We had a beautiful sunny day and of we went in the Zodiac with 5 plastic buckets – we where going to pick mussels.
And didn’t we find mussels – millions every where. We never claimed up on the main rock – but all the lower ones where covered in mussels, they where not very big – but still; I have been picking mussels on Cape Horn. They where served as a starter the same evening – it was some scrubbing for me back in the galley. We served them as “Moules Marinières” –  my favourite  of all variations.

In Belfast we had a Bistro called – Roscoff’s Café & Bistro – owned by Northern Ireland’s TV-chef, Paul Rankin. There I met this version of mussels, … and I went there at least ones a week to have their mussels. Then they changed the layout of the place and also the menu – no more mussels to my big sorrow … now the cafe is gone too. So I had to start doing them myself and here is my recipe.  Don’t know if they are exact to Paul’s – but they taste fantastic.

Mussels with coconut milk, chilli and sesame broth, serves 4
2kg (4lb) fresh mussels
2 large red chillies, deseeded and sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped
8 Kaffir lime leaves, torn
4 garlic cloves, chopped 1 bunch of fresh coriander, roughly torn
400ml (14fl oz) coconut milk
4 limes, juice
20ml (4tsp) sesame oil

Scrub the mussels in cold water and pull of the scraggly “beard” that may still be attached to the shell. Shake dry and place the mussels in a large saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for 4-5 min. shaking the pan occasionally – until all mussels has opened, discard any that remain close.

Divide the mussels between warm serving bowls and stain over the juice. I always serve with fries like in Belgium and a nicely chilled sauvignon blanc to go with it – in this case I would go for a French. Or like in Bruges a cold Leffe!!!

Mussels should only be eaten in months with an “R” !!!!  Just like in March *smile

“So have you heard about the oyster who
went to a disco and pulled a mussel”
Billy Connolly


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12 thoughts on “Cape Horn, 23.12.1978; mussels with coconut, chilli and sesame broth

  1. Great post, Viveka! I know that “R” thing in the month when the mussels should be safe to eat although these days, I find them in the shops even on non-R months. I should try this version of yours especially with the coconut milk and the Kafir lime leaves. Sounds very yummy! I cook them with beer and the onions, celery and carrots.

    I remember having them in Normandy with some creamy sauce. Also wonderful and with some cider and French bread, I was very happy. 😉

  2. You did it again… I’ve had mussels out the wazoo (new expression for you!) but never have taken them in an Asian direction.
    I want to do a menu with this and the spicy pears for dessert.
    I’m trying those mussels this week. Will keep you posted.

    • Love German Whites … specially Gerwurstzraminer. My German Ex – Hans are an expert on German wines and Italian. The Mussels are not that spicy – but wines will go well anyhow. Not that important with what wine we drink or not drink, we should only drink what we enjoy most. It has gone so much snobbery into wined drinking. Please tell me what the verdict was.

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