Look at the still life of this Intergalactic Snack and what do you see? A mollusc on a resin bowl? A couple of aliens under the Milky Way? A dinosaur in a fascinator, perhaps. The longer you look, the less clear it becomes. Which, really, is the perfect way to sum up the high-low combo of pickled mussels, kewpie and crinkle-cut chips, a tiny mouthful that gives much more than its tiny size would suggest: crunch, brine, creaminess, tang, umami, a touch of sweetness. Perhaps this extraterrestrial, kinda-canape coming to a dinner party near you.
Pickled Mussels and Chips
1kg mussels, rinsed and drained
½ cup white wine
6 dried red chillies
250ml extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
250ml cider vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp salt
Salted crinkle-cut chips
Golden shallot, finely sliced
Parsley, to garnish
Heat a large saucepan over very high heat. Throw in the mussels, followed by the white wine. Pop on the lid and shake every now and then until mussels open. About 2-3 mins.
Drain, reserve some of the juices, remove from shells and place in a sterilised jar.
Heat a pan over very high heat and dry-fry the chillis until charred. Turn down to medium, then add 2 tbsp of oil, the garlic (an ungodly but necessary amount), fennel seeds, pepper.
Once the garlic is golden, add the vinegar, salt, sugar, remaining oil, a little bit of the mussel juice and bring to the boil. Then pour over the mussels. Leave for an hour or two for a light pickle (preferred) or in the fridge for up to two days.
Serve on a crinkle cut chip, with a generous dollop of Kewpie, a leaf of fresh parsley and a ring of golden shallot. Eat with fingers in one go.
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