This dish is simple and effective, with beautiful flavours coming from the Thai basil and lemongrass alongside the sweetness of the mussels.
- 1 330 ml (11 fl oz) can Bia Hanoi (or lager)
- 4 sprigs Thai basil, stalks and leaves separated
- 4 cm (1 ¾ in) piece of ginger, crushed
- 1 long red chilli, sliced
- 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, lightly crushed and cut into 10-cm (4 in) lengths
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 4 banh mi (Vietnamese rolls) (optional)
Cumquat chilli salt
- 1 bird’s eye chilli
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 4 cumquats, halved
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. To make the cumquat chilli salt, pound the chilli to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Add the salt and lightly pound until well combined. Divide the chilli salt among four small dipping bowls and top with two cumquat halves.
2. Place the Bia Hanoi, Thai basil stalks, ginger, chilli and lemongrass in a saucepan large enough to comfortably hold the mussels. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil for 2–3 minutes.
3. Add the mussels, then cover and cook, shaking the pan often, for about 5 minutes or until the shells have opened. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a large serving plate and pour the broth into a serving bowl. Scatter the reserved Thai basil leaves over the mussels and broth.
4. To serve, invite guests to juice the cumquats into their chilli salt. Dip the mussels in the broth followed by the chili salt, and enjoy.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99