A dish like Moules Marinières really is hard to beat, but here is an alternative: Mouclade. Cooked in the same time-honoured way but with the addition of a few well-chosen flavourings. It is the absolute embodiment of the seductive and sumptuous East, with cumin, coriander, turmeric and star anise at its heart.

Ingredients:
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander 1 tsp. saffron
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 1 to 1.5kg (3 lb) live mussels, cleaned
  • 250ml (7 fl oz.) double cream or coconut cream handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander 1 tomato, seeded and diced
Method:
  • Place a large saucepan over a low heat and sweat off the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Stir in the spices and cook gently for a few minutes until the aroma intensifies. Add the wine, turn up the heat and allow to reduce until there is hardly any liquid left in the pan (watch it like a hawk at this stage - it can 'catch' very easily).
  • Now, turn the heat up as far as it will go and throw in the mussels. Clamp on the lid and allow to 'steam' for one or two minutes, shaking the pan every so often. Have a look inside - if the mussels have opened about a centimetre or so they are 'done' - never ever overcook seafood, there is simply no point and it tastes awful!
  • Now, drain through a colander and reserve the liquid. Tip the mussels into a heatproof serving dish and cover with a clean T-towel, setting them aside while you finish off the dish:
  • The mussel liquor will contain quite a bit of grit so carefully pour the liquid back into the pan, up the heat for a rolling boil and reduce a little. Stir in the cream or coconut cream and bring back to the boil. Swirl in the parsley, coriander and tomato, check the seasoning, them lob the whole lot over the mussels.
  • Serve with some crusty French bread or simply loads of incredibly thin chips!