This soup puts an Asian spin on a European classic. Characteristic Belgian flavours of parsley and cream are substituted with Asian favourites coriander and fish sauce. You can leave your utensils in the drawer when serving — use the empty mussels shells to slurp up the soup, and the frites to soak up the juices.
Artwork by Max Berry
Asian Moules Frites
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) dry white wine
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) fish or chicken stock
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/3 cup coriander (cilantro) stems, roughly chopped
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) mussels, debearded and washed
- 1/2 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- lime wedges, to serve
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz/about 3 large) floury potatoes, such as Sebago
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) olive oil
To make the frites, preheat the oven to 200°C (400ºF/Gas 6). Wash potatoes and slice into thick chips. Dry thoroughly with paper towels. Place the dried chips on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss well. Cook the chips for about 1 hour, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden.
To make the moules, combine the saffron threads and white wine in a bowl and set aside for 20 minutes to infuse. Combine the stock and kaffir lime leaves in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1 minute, then add the white wine and saffron mixture, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander stems, stir well and simmer for a further minute.
Increase the heat to medium–high, add the mussels to the pan and toss well to combine, then cover and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the mussels start to open. Gently toss through the coriander leaves and lime juice and cook for a further minute or two, until all of the mussels open. Discard any unopened mussels.
Divide the mussels and broth between serving bowls and serve with the frites and lime wedges on the side.