My latest cuisine column comes at the request of an amazing single father looking for a cracker fritter recipe for his hauls of fresh shellfish. This recipe, with accompanying dip, is super-easy and can be used with fresh mussels, cockles, pipis or tuatuas. It’s perfect at any time of the year. I urge those who aren’t hunter-gatherer types to give this one a go. You don’t need to battle the cold and rain to hit the beach for pipis, you can pick the cream of the crop at the supermarket.
I often use live mussels from my local supermarket for this dish. When selecting mussels, I search for the biggest and cleanest ones, sitting wet underneath the water jets. I also inspect each individual mussel thoroughly, ensuring that it is not open (even the tiniest bit) or cracked. Cracked or open mussels are a no go. Open mussels are usually dead, and if they are dead they are not fresh. Once I have filled my bag with my hand-selected mussels, I pop the bag under the water jets. I do this to keep my mussels moist and alive until I cook them, and I always cook them on the day of purchase.
Mussel Fritters with Smoky Aioli
20 live mussels
2 small spring onions
½ tsp fresh dill
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup milk
Lashings of freshly ground
salt and pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp finely chopped/crushed garlic
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 lemon cut into segments
Give your live mussels a quick scrub, then quickly rip out the beards. Pop them in a pot with an inch or two of water, cover with a lid, and steam on high until the mussels start to open. Keep a close watch as they will open fairly quickly and are easily overcooked. Once open, pull the mussels from the shell and pop them in a food processor with the dill, spring onion, half of your chopped parsley and a hearty grind of salt and pepper. Blitz. If you don’t have a food processor, chop finely. Beat your two eggs in a separate bowl. Add mussel mix and stir. Then fold in sifted flour and enough milk to make a spoonable batter. Add another hearty grind of salt and pepper. Mix. Heat a large pan with two tablespoons of oil on a medium heat. Cook spoonfuls of the batter in batches for two to three minutes each side until golden brown. You will need to keep adding oil. Place fritters on a paper towel once cooked until ready to serve.
To make the smoky aioli: combine the mayonnaise, garlic, paprika, a little squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper. Mix.
Plate your fritters, sprinkling over the remaining fresh parsley. Serve your aioli and lemon wedges on the side and dig in!