One thing about returning home to New Zealand after spending many years away is enjoying the simple abundance of beautiful seafood.
Like it or not, most of us at one time or another have spent hours fishing off a boat or casting a line waist-deep in the freezing ocean. I love it.
We spend our holidays in a small village called Oaro not far from Kaikoura, fishing the days away.
I reckon the railway line and the way it meanders its way through the Canterbury countryside - before popping out of a tunnel to a sense of release at seeing the ocean in all its majestic glory - is just so amazing.
This to me is a great way to see and experience our coastline. It looks clean, fresh and full of life.
The beautiful Kaikoura coast brings back childhood memories of my brothers and I collecting shellfish on North Island beaches, and this dish is inspired by those thoughts.
Just remember to always use the freshest ingredients and that way you guarantee your food will taste as it should.
Using farmed mussels is the easy way to get this dish on your menu. Remember, if the shells don't open when cooked, the shellfish inside must NOT be eaten.
I hope you froze your red curry paste from last week because this recipe calls for another teaspoon.
MUSSELS WITH CHILLI
3 Tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp red curry paste
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp palm sugar
1 long red chilli - sliced
1/4 green pepper, julienned
1/4 red pepper, julienned
1 Tbsp julienned ginger
1/4 cup basil leaves; reserve some for garnish
Black pepper to taste
Heat oil in a very large pot. Throw in the red curry paste and fry until fragrant, around 2 minutes. Add the cleaned mussels and cook on high for 1 minute or until everything is coated. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar, chilli, julienned peppers and ginger. Cover and fry for around five minutes or until the shells open. Add the basil leaves.
To serve, pile them high on a large plate and sprinkle remaining basil over the top.