Sunday, 21 April 2013

jill dupleix's sesame chicken salad with celery and cucumber & thai-spiced mussels with skinny fries

Whisper it, could summer finally be here? After yesterday's warm-but-windy opener, it's lovely today; a perfect day for a birthday picnic at Kew Gardens for our neighbour and professional Welshman, Al 'Is that coat my jacket?' Carter.

The problem is we've got nothing to take, unless we sacrifice our planned roast for one of Ana's favourite salads and picnic standby Sesame Chicken. There are swings to go with these roundabouts though. If we take the salad it means we've definitely got mussels for dinner which is definitely NOT in her top ten.

In the end the birthday boy gets Jilly D's zesty salad on the basis it's fab, quick to make and far easier to transport to Kew Gardens than half a kilo of shellfish.

As it turns out the mussels are a genius Sunday evening meal, not least because we're all fairly full of mini-Scotch eggs and other picnic fayre, so 500g of shellfish splits nicely three ways, accompanied by Bill Granger skinny fries.

Now we've finally got some baking parchment the chips work a treat - crisp, salty and perfect for soaking up the sauce - and though I say it myself, revisiting the Thai-spiced mussels from mine and Brian's birthday trip to L'Atelier des Chefs is my tastiest version yet! I urge you to try one of their courses as I still use all of the techniques I learned there.

However, having eaten mussels four or five times and previously enjoyed the whole debearding process, my mini right-hand man in all things mollusc lets me down and point-blank refuses to eat anything other than chips or baguette.

Wine Time
The trick here is to recognise that the mussels aren't the key flavour here, the sauce is, so all the usual suspects would work a treat. Take your pick from Kiwi Sauvs, Gewurtz and Gruner Veltliner for a classic and classy match. If you're feeling daring, take a leaf from Belgo's book and try a Belgian Witbeer, where the citrus notes make perfect sense with the fragrant Thai sauce.

Skinny fries - Bill Granger, Simply Bill
Thai-Spiced Mussels - L'Atelier des Chefs


  1. THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME OF JD'S SALAD! Cannot believe I'd forgotten..

  2. Ha! Here's a picture of your husband swapping keys with my wife, whilst eating the very same.