Mussels & Cayenne Peppers: MasterChef at the Farmers’ Market

Mussels & Cayenne Pepper

As a creature of habit, I love our Saturday morning ritual.  We roll out of bed, feed our pup, Taj, and stroll down to our neighborhood farmers’ market in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, all 3 of us eager to see what the season has in store for us. As Taj nibbles on pieces of vegetables and fruits fallen from the stalls, I start putting together a mental list of all the ingredients I want for our next couple of meals.

Inspired by the fair amount of reality cooking shows that I watch, I’ve been toying with the idea of adding “limitations” to my own kitchen to nudge a little more creativity into my meals. So last weekend, I decided to make dinner with ingredients bought almost entirely from our farmers’ market. And as I walked around, I added another stipulation: The meal had to take no longer than 30 minutes to cook. Can you tell I was feeling confident and competitive?

A glistening heap of fresh mussels and a basket of gorgeous cayenne peppers caught my eye, and a recipe for stir-fried mussels took shape.

Mussels Chili-03

In addition to the mussels and peppers, I bought butter, bread, and a bunch of fresh cilantro and green onions that were in abundance at the market. Since the peppers I picked up weren’t as hot as I had expected, I used them very liberally in the recipe. I’d recommend tasting the peppers you buy and varying the amount you use according to your tastes.

After scrubbing and de-bearding the mussels, I tossed them into a hot wok with water, sauteed green onions and peppers. I also added some lemongrass and ginger from my fridge. Once the mussels opened up, I transferred them to individual bowls leaving behind the sauce. To the remaining sauce in the wok, I added fresh cilantro, fish sauce for an added saltiness, and a pat of butter for creaminess. I then ladled the sauce over the bowls of mussels and served them with wedges of lime and crusty garlic bread. Voila! An incredibly flavorful dish predominantly sourced from the farmers’ market and cooked within 30 minutes.

Mussels Chili-02

From the way Tarah and I both licked our bowls clean, I’d say I won my own personal “competition”. Stay tuned for more recipes using ingredients from our farmers’ market.

~ Anjali

A printable list of ingredients and directions are at the end of this post,
along with an image of this Perfect Morsel.

Mussels Chili-06

Scrub and de-beard the mussels under cold water using a strong brush. Set aside in a large bowl.

Mussels Chili-07b

Slice the cayenne peppers and green onions. Peel and finely chop the ginger, and crush the lemongrass. The lemongrass is optional. It adds a lovely tangy flavor to the dish but is often difficult to find.

Mussels Chili-07

Heat oil in a wok or wide large pan on high heat. Add lemongrass, green onions, ginger, cayenne peppers. Stir for 1 min.

Mussels Chili-08

Add mussels and water, and cover the wok. Steam for about 5 mins. Take the lid off and gently stir. If most of the mussels have opened, they are ready to eat. If there are still a few unopen, replace the lid and cook for an additional minute. Be careful not to overcook them. Transfer only the mussels to individual bowls leaving behind as much of the peppers and other ingredients in the wok as you can.

Mussels Chili-09

To the remaining sauce in the wok, add chopped fresh cilantro, fish sauce, and butter. For extra heat, add pepper flakes. Stir for 1 min.

Mussels Chili-10

Ladle the sauce over the bowls of mussels. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with slices of lime and crusty warm bread to soak up the juices. Remember to discard the lemongrass before eating.

Mussels Chili-12

Here’s a spoonful of the buttery, spicy, tangy sauce with a juicy and perfectly chewy mussel.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>