Boost the heady taste of the sea with a little sweet and-sour brilliance. This dish is great served alongside fish; I love any fish dish served with mussels. The juice that comes from them is the taste of the sea, a wonderful self-saucing stock.
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1kg live (black) mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
150ml white wine
1 tsp saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water
16 large green king prawns, peeled
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
80g unsalted butter, chopped
½ cup baby red sorrel or flat-leaf parsley, finely shredded
crusty bread, to serve (gluten-free if required)
1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, wide saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for five minutes, until soft.
2. Increase the heat to high, then add the mussels, wine and saffron with its soaking liquid, and cover with the lid. (If your pan isn't quite big enough to fit all the mussels comfortably, you may need to cook them in two batches, which is fine.)
3. Cook, shaking frequently, for two-three minutes, until the mussels begin to open. Remove from the heat and strain the mussels into a sieve placed over a bowl. (If you're cooking the mussels in two batches, simply scoop the first batch of cooked mussels out with a strainer and set aside while you cook the rest.) Strain the mussel broth through a fine sieve, and discard any gritty bits.
4. Season the prawns with sea salt. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the prawns and flash-fry until the prawns are opaque on the outside but still translucent in the middle (about 30 seconds a side for large).
5. Add the mussel broth and bring to a simmer. Add the butter and mussels and gently stir through; the prawns should be just cooked. Sprinkle the stew with the baby red sorrel or parsley and add a grind of white pepper.
6. To serve, place the pan on the table, or serve in one big bowl, with a ladle and bowls for everyone. Serve with crusty bread.
Suggestion: Sreve with Neil Perry's 'pan-fried snapper with Sicilian salsa'.