Recipe: Lao-style seafood feast

Crayfish, mussels and snapper abound in this colourful seafood dish.

Crayfish, mussels and snapper abound in this colourful seafood dish.

Serves 8
Preparation 30 minutes / Cooking 15 minutes

1kg raw crayfish, halved lengthwise, flesh cut into bite-size pieces, shell reserved for serving if desired
2 tablespoons coconut oil 
2kg green-lipped mussels, scrubbed clean
1½ tablespoons ground turmeric      
4 shallots, halved, thinly sliced
1½ tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves
2 bird's eye chillies, thinly sliced
270ml coconut milk
½ cup toasted shredded coconut (optional)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
600g skinned and boned snapper or other firm-fleshed white fish, cut into bite-size pieces
250g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet directions
coriander, Thai basil and freshly ground white or black pepper to serve

If you're using the crayfish shell to serve, steam it in a steamer basket set over simmering water and set aside until needed. This is for presentation purposes – it turns the shell a bright orange.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large saucepan over high heat. In batches, add the mussels and cover with a lid. Cook for 20 seconds or until starting to open. Remove from the pan and put in a large bowl, reserving any juices.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok over medium-high heat. Cook the turmeric, shallots and sugar for 5 minutes or until softened and caramelised. Stir in the kaffir lime leaves, chilli, mussel juices, coconut milk and shredded coconut, if using.

Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the fish sauce and lime juice and stir to combine. 

Add the crayfish meat and cook for 1 minute, then add the fish and cook for a further 2 minutes or until just cooked through. 

Add the mussels and toss to combine. To serve, return the crayfish meat to the halved shell and arrange on a large platter (or two smaller platters) with the remaining seafood. 

Serve with the noodles, herbs and freshly ground pepper.

WINE A medium-dry pinot gris such as the Mud House Single Vineyard Home Block Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2014.

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