"The mussels that come from the water around the Mornington are particularly good," says Phil Wood, executive chef of Laura and Pt Leo Restaurant in the Mornington Peninsula. "The cold nutrient-rich seas make for a nice sweet mussel. Serving them with a lightly spicy shiitake condiment is a wonderful way to start a meal. They can be steamed beforehand, then served reheated on the barbecue or cold straight from the fridge; they'll be delicious either way."
- 150 ml canola oil
- 5 golden shallots, thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 dried long red chillies, seeds removed, crumbled
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar, or to taste
- 1 tbsp Korean chilli flakes (see note)
- 1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
- 300 gm shiitake mushrooms
- 1 kg mussels, beards removed
- Lemon wedges (optional), to serve
- 1Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add shallot, garlic and chilli and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft (10-12 minutes). Strain, reserving oil, then return shallot mixture to pan with sugar, Korean chilli and 3 tsp reserved oil. Stir over medium heat until caramelised (6-8 minutes), then add fish sauce to stop the cooking. Transfer to a heatproof jug and blend with a hand-held blender until a smooth paste.
- 2Meanwhile, preheat oven grill to high and grill shiitake on an oven tray, turning, until light golden (3-4 minutes). Finely dice.
- 3Return shallot mixture to saucepan with shiitake and 60ml oil and stir over medium heat until shiitake is softened (3-4 minutes). Remove from heat and season to taste with fish sauce and sugar.
- 4Place mussels in a large saucepan, then place pan over high heat, cover with a lid and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until mussels open (5-7 minutes; mussels will steam in their own juices). Remove mussels from pan, discarding top shells from each, and chill until needed.
- 5To serve, preheat a barbecue or char-grill pan to high. Grill mussels in the shells until very hot (3-4 minutes). Top each with a teaspoon of shiitake mixture and serve with lemon wedges.
Korean chilli is available from Asian supermarkets.
Drink suggestion: A riesling, such as Mac Forbes RS19 Riesling from the Strathbogie Ranges. Drink suggestion by Andrew Murch.