The bold flavour of New Zealand green-lipped mussels melds well with the intensity of the spicy Sichuan style broth. Together they deliver a taste experience as delectable as it is unusual.
Spicy Sichuan Broth
The idea for this dish came from an item, Sweating Mussels, on the menu of a Singapore restaurant called Birds of a Feather (reviewed here). The broth in this delectabilia version draws on the techniques from two classic Sichuan dishes: boiled fish and mapu tofu. If you love complex spicy broths, especially the numbing and spicy málà style, you will love these spicy mussels. The ‘sweating mussels’ name really is appropriate.
New Zealand Mussels
Of course, to love these spicy New Zealand mussels, you would need to be a fan of mussels. Not just any mussels, but big succulent New Zealand green-lipped mussels. Thankfully for those who don’t live in that beautiful country where such mussels are abundant, frozen green-lipped mussels are now widely exported. If I can buy them in Saigon, chances are you can find them too. If you are in New Zealand, make the most of those amazing fresh mussels you can buy at the local supermarket at such a good price.
You will be able to find most of these ingredients in your local supermarket or Asian market. The chilli bean paste (Doubanjiang), fermented black beans, and Sichuan pepper may be harder to find. If all else fails, try Amazon for the Sichuan peppercorns, the fermented black beans, and the Doubanjiang.
New Zealand Mussels in a Spicy Sichuan Broth
Sweating NZ Mussels
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 6 cloves garlic crushed
- 100 g button mushrooms or a portobello would work well
- 6 spring onions reserve green parts for the garnish
- 2 Tbsp chilli bean paste Doubanjiang
- 1 Tbsp fermented black beans
- 1 Tbsp chilli flakes
- 2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tsp Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns ground
- 2 cups brown chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with some water
- 20 green lipped mussels fresh if you are in NZ, or available in many places frozen in the half shell
- 200 g fish cake or fish balls
- 2 Tbsp Chilli oil
- Diced green ends of the spring onions
- Prepare the mussels. If using fresh mussels, steam in water or white wine until they open. Discard any that don’t. Allow too cool.
- If using frozen mussels in the half-shell, defrost in the refrigerator well ahead of time.
- Remove the mussels from the shells. Remove the “beard” if it is still attached.
- Dice the spring onions, reserving the green parts for the garnish
- Dice the mushroom very finely.
- Stir fry the mushrooms and onion until the mushrooms have stopped reducing in size (about 6-7 minutes)
- Stir fry the garlic and ginger in a little cooking oil for a few minutes.
- Add the stir fried mushrooms, chilli flakes, chilli bean paste, and fermented black beans. Cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry), and black vinegar (or balsamic).
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
- Add the ground Sichuan pepper.
- Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the cornstarch paste and stir well until the soup starts to thicken a little (a minute or two).
- Add the mussels and fish cakes/balls bring back to a simmer and simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Serve with rice.