“When you have fantastic produce like these super fresh mussels, it’s really easy to create delicious food without too much effort. Here I serve them straight up with a squeeze of lemon, in lettuce cups with a ceviche dressing and in the half shell with gazpacho jelly and crispy capers. To make it even easier when you're entertaining, prepare the gazpacho jelly the night before.” Rachel Khoo, Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook Melbourne
- 1 kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded (see Note)
- 1 lemon, halved
Gazpacho jelly and crispy capers
- 170 g ripe tomatoes
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
- 1½ platinum gelatin leaves
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp capers in brine, drained and pat dried
- ½ small red capsicum (pepper), halved, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, juiced and zested
- 1 small red chilli, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
- pinch of salt
- ½ tsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves, plus extra leaves, to serve
- 1 baby gem lettuce, trimmed and leaves separated
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.
Standing time 15 minutes
Chilling time 4 hours
To make the mussels with gazpacho jelly, place the tomatoes, celery, garlic, vinegar, oil and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Line a sieve with a large piece of muslin, then place over a bowl. Pour the gazpacho mixture into the sieve, then bring up the sides and tie with string to make a bag (or you can use a jelly bag if you have one). Hang the bag over a bowl (I suspend it from the tap leaving the bowl underneath to catch the juice). Leave to hang for 15 minutes or until most of the juice is out (you can give it a light squeeze too).
Once most of the juice is out, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water. Place the juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the tomato juice is just hot to the touch, add the gelatine leaves and stir to dissolve. Pour the mixture into a shallow tray and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
When ready to cook the mussels, preheat a covered barbecue to medium-high.
Place the mussels on a large piece of foil, add the lemon halves, squeezing some of the juice over the top. Wrap up like a parcel, then wrap again in another piece of foil to make sure it is secure. Place on the hot barbecue, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the mussels are all open (you may have to open up the foil parcel to check, but be careful you don’t burn your fingers!).
Meanwhile to prepare the ceviche dressing, combine all the ingredients and set aside.
For the gazpacho jelly mussels, heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the drained capers and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the capers are looking crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
Remove the mussels from the foil and check for any remaining beards inside the meat. Place one third of the mussels in a bowl with the lemon halves (these will be served straight up).
To serve the ceviche mussels, remove the meat from half the remaining mussels. Lay out as many baby gem leaves as you need on a serving plate. Place mussels on top, then dress with the ceviche dressing and scatter with the extra coriander leaves.
To serve the mussels with gazpacho jelly, remove and discard the top shells from the remaining mussels and place in a single layer on a plate. Remove your jelly from the fridge and cut into small cubes, placing one piece on each mussel. Top with a few fried capers and a slice of red capsicum. Serve immediately.
• Sort through mussels, tapping any that are open lightly on a surface to see if they close shut. Discard the ones that remain open, or any that are damaged (they have perished and are not safe to eat). Pull off the beard, and scrape any barnacles off using the back of a knife then rinse. Discard any mussels that are still shut after cooking.