Spicy mussel soup. In the northeast of Brazil, in the state of Bahia, mussels are known as “sururu.” This is a great soup to serve at the beginning of a meal. In Brazil it is served in small cups or shot glasses, and in many little cafes it can be found served alongside a cold glass of beer. For a crunchy addition, chopped roasted peanuts can be mixed through the soup.
Recipe courtesy of "Street Food: Exploring the World's Most Authentic Tastes" by Tom Kime, copyright 2007. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited. All rights reserved.
|2 small fresh red-hot chilies, seeded and finely chopped||6 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped|
|2 garlic cloves||2 bay leaves|
|6 fresh cilantro sprigs, leaves removed and stems finely chopped||1 1/4 cups canned coconut cream or coconut milk|
|2 tbsp olive oil||Juice of 2 limes plus extra limes, cut into wedges, for garnish|
|2 medium white onions, finely chopped||Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|4 1/2 lb (2 kg) mussels in their shells|
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the chilies with the garlic and salt. Add the cilantro stems and work into a paste. Heat a large heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chili paste in the oil. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Tap each mussel lightly on the work surface, and discard any that do not open, then add the mussels, tomato, and 2 cups water to the onion mixture. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves and continue cooking until the mussels open (discard any unopened mussels). Remove from the heat, and transfer the mussels and onion to a bowl. Let cool. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve and set aside.
Prize open the mussels completely; remove the meat and discard the shells. Place two-thirds of the mussel meat in a food processor with the cooled tomato and onion mixture. Puree with the coconut cream until smooth. Return the puree to the heavy pan with the strained mussel cooking liquid and another 2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the reserved whole mussels to the pan, season well with salt and pepper, and add the lime juice.
Taste the soup. It should be rich and creamy, with a good base of chili flavor. The lime juice cuts through the richness to ensure the soup has a perfect balance of flavors, rather than being cloying. Serve hot in small cups or shot glasses, with each serving garnished with a lime wedge.
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