Epicure Recipe Cards #26 & #25: Thai Mussels with Sweet Potato, Tuscan Tomato Salad with Marinated Goat’s Cheese

It’s been a couple of months since any of these recipe cards have been posted, or cooked for that matter. I’m pretty certain that I won’t be getting through them all prior to the end of the year especially when I’m becoming increasingly left with recipes which fail to ignite much cooking passion. Or perhaps I’m just lacking cooking passion at the moment, full stop. Such a situation calls for creative interpretations and very, very loose adaptations of recipes.

I like mussels but I don’t like sweet potato. Mussels require multiple rounds of soaking in heavily salted water and draining to remove grit, but it’s more time-consuming rather than being a labour-intensive exercise. Sweet potato I will eat in small amounts, usually as crisp kumara chips, roasted or deep-fried in tempura batter. I don’t enjoy it mashed and I can‘t envisage the taste sensation of cubes of it cooked with mussels. So I decided to do away with the sweet potato and cooked the mussels with garlic, chilli and onion instead, with some crusty bread rolls on the side to soak up the briny shellfish juices. Being a fresh seafood dish, this is one of those things which is more a rough sketch rather than a strict recipe as the amount of seasoning and heat is completely up to the person cooking it. Don’t like/can’t handle chilli? Leave it out. Have some fresh herbs on hand? Throw them in if you think the flavour works.

The fruit and vegetable stalls near where I bought the mussels all had punnets of yellow cherry tomatoes going for cheap at the time. A punnet came home with me, the cherry tomatoes within halved and then mixed with a chopped Roma tomato and olives as a side salad to the mussels. The goat’s cheese was deliberately omitted as I didn’t think it’d be a good companion to the mussels but I particularly liked the vibrant colours as well as the saltiness of the olives echoing the saltiness of the seafood.

This meal was enjoyed a couple of months ago when the weather was cooler, but would be perfect for the weather now which is finally starting to show some signs of summer. It’s easy to prepare and most suited for casual picking at over a drink or two and, preferably, some conversation and laughter.

Garlic & Chilli Mussels (serves 2)
(adapted from The Age – Epicure 50 Best Recipe Cards, recipe by Jill Dupleix)

·         1kg black mussels
·         1 tbs oil
·         2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
·         1 small red chilli, finely sliced (deseeded to reduce the heat, if preferred)
·         ½ small onion, thinly sliced
·         ½ cup dry white wine or water

  1. Soak mussels in liberally salted water for 1-2 hours, changing the water when it gets cloudy. Scrub mussels to remove any barnacles and pull out the beards.
  2. In a large pot with a lid, heat oil over medium heat with garlic, chilli and onion until fragrant. Tip in mussels along with the wine, cover with the lid and let steam for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Remove lid, stir mussels around before replacing lid and steaming a further 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, season with salt to taste and stir to mix well. Opened mussels should be removed to a serving bowl and the lid replaced to further steam the remaining for another minute.
  5. Remove lid and add any opened mussels to the serving bowl. Discard any which remain closed. Serve with crusty bread if desired.

Tomato & Olive Salad (serves 2 as a side)
(adapted from The Age – Epicure 50 Best Recipe Cards, recipe by Jill Dupleix)

·         ·         250g punnet of cherry/grape tomatoes
·         ·         1 Roma tomato, chopped
·         ·         small handful of pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
·         ·         1-2 splashes balsamic vinegar
·         ·         drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Mix everything together with some ground salt and pepper to taste. Toss well and set aside for 20 minutes before serving to allow flavours to develop.

happy cooking!


  1. Yumm the mussels look awesome! Don't blame you for getting rid of the sweet potato, doesn't sound like it needs it! And the colours in the salad are purdy :)

  2. rita, seriously awesome. the mussels sound delicious

  3. mussels look delish! I haven't liked mussels for a while, but getting back into them now! Not sure I want to cook them at home yet though!

  4. Gawd I LOVE mussels, but soaking them? I've never done that. I buy the prepacked, clean live mussels from south australia,I think the brand is Kinawooka; and you can cook them straight up, no soaking required!

  5. I must admit I have never soaked mussels. Adore them and much prefer your adaption to the recipe card. Not sure on sweet potato with mussels, good omission.

  6. I didn't eat mussels while I was pregnant, and this has reminded me I've still not enjoyed this little shelled treat. I've never soaked them either. I like what you've done with the recipe. Great for summer!

  7. Those 'matos look lovely and I agree this seems like a great casual-picking dish :)

    I've never bothered soaking mussels before and never had grit problems but now am second guessing myself... perhaps I've just been lucky?! I hope my friends haven't been too polite to mention grit :|

  8. Mussels with garlic & white wine, yum! I'm kind of disappointed that you didn't give the sweet potato a go just to let the rest of us know why Epicure chose to pair the two! He he!

  9. Love the combo....even though my relationship with mussels is definitely on and off!

  10. I do love sweet potato but I can't see it working with Mussels either. I think the best way to enjoy mussels is simple as that, bit of garlic, herbs, chilli and white wine - divine! =)

  11. I don't eat mussels that often but I really do like them. This looks delicious!

  12. Hey Steph, hopefully warmer weather will mean more mussels and colourful salads!

    Hey Laura, and mussels are so quick to cook as well.

    Hey Gastronomy Gal, but they're so easy to cook and serve - you should giving cooking mussels a try!

    Hey Reemski, seems I'm the only one who soaks mussels...just something I've always seen Mum do, along with pippies.

    Hey Sara, maybe I just have an unfounded bias towards sweet potato?

    Hey Julia, mussels are just so easy to prepare and impressive when there are guests too!

    Hey Conor, or if you're feeling lazy then you can tip the tomatoes in for a swirl with the mussels towards the end.

    Hey Gummi Baby, just couldn't bring myself to go down the sweet potato path =p

    Hey Kitchen Butterfly, sounds like my relationship with sweet potato!

    Hey Angie, agreed - simple is often best with seafood.

    Hey LimeCake, thanks for dropping by =) I really should cook mussels more often as well. They're easy and don't cost as much as other shellfish either, although there are lots of shells.

  13. I love mussels done just like this and the simple tomato salad with the salty olives would indeed be just the right accompaniment. It's so hot here in Adelaide at the moment (35 today and yesterday and 33 tomorrow) that this would be such a great meal to have right now.

  14. Hello,

    Interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about recipe. Thanks you.

  15. That looks great Rita! I never seem to cook mussels, but they are so delicious!

  16. Hey Sarah, it was blistering hot in Sydney for a little while too but these past couple of days have been a bit cooler. Not any barrier to enjoy a pot of mussels though!

    Hey Maria, they're easy and inexpensive to do so try cooking them sometime!


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