I’d eat that: simple ways to be a better cook, 192pp.
by Callum Hann
Murdoch Books, Crows Nest NSW, 2014
Cooking on page 132
The MasterChef competition is in its seventh season in Australia, but I remember back in 2010 when Callum Hann was that season’s runner-up. He was a 20-year-old student who was cooking up a storm.
Not much has changed. After MasterChef, Hann worked in some of the country’s top restaurant kitchens and toured Australian universities teaching students how to cook. That inspired him to start the Sprout Cooking School in Adelaide, South Australia, his home state.
Hann is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Home Cooking Skills program. His first cookbook, The starter kitchen: learn how to love to cook, came out in 2012.
This second cookbook is filled with tips for becoming a better, more knowledgeable and happier cook.
Page 32 is the divider for the chapter on breakfast dishes, so I moved on to 132.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 chorizo sausage, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes
125 ml (4 fl ox/ 1/2 cup) good quality chicken stock or water
1 kg (2lb 4 oz) mussels, scrubbed clean and beard removed (sometimes these are called pot-ready mussels)
a handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, roughly chopped
crusty bread, to serve
Heat a large heavy-based pot over a high heat. Add the canola oil then the onion and chorizo. Cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the onion and chorizo turn golden and smell delicious. Add the chilli (if using), garlic and paprika and cook for a further minute before adding the tomatoes. Simmer for 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the tomatoes darken in colour.
Add the chicken stock or water, bring to the boil, then add the mussels. Cover with a lid and steam for 3–5 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally, until all of the mussels open. If one or two don’t open, don’t stress. They aren’t bad mussels like many people think (I’ve been assured by the mussel grower!). Prise them open carefully with a small knife, and if they look good, go for it. Divided between serving bowls, top with the chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty bread.
How it played out
Poor John has been badgering me to make this for ages, but I’ve been waiting for a special on mussels. He got lucky when I managed to score a kilo of South Australian blue mussels for $6. Poor John is from South Australia, so we were off to a good start.
I made this recipe pretty much as written, using the chilli, vegetable stock (no chicken on hand) and a combo of chopped parsley and coriander (cilantro) because I didn’t have enough parsley.
Time-wise, I cooked the tomato mixture for 10 minutes and steamed the mussels for 5, which was perfect for both. Every single mussel opened. Yay! But it was nice to read that I can at least check unopened ones to see if they are okay.
Oh my goodness, what a wonderful recipe! This one ranks in the top 10 of all the page-32 recipes I’ve ever made. Absolutely, totally and completely delicious. So easy to make and so wonderful. Served with slices of my buttered homemade sourdough rye bread.
I know I will make this whenever mussels are on sale. I might even make it when they’re expensive.
If you make it, let me know what you think. And I’ll try to compile a list of my top 10 recipes from page 32s.
If you love fish and seafood, check out the equally delicious soup Poor John and I enjoyed in small restaurant in Lijiang, China.