Friday, January 13, 2012

Curried Haddock and Mussels

Alain Ducasse has been described (by others and, perhaps, by himself) as a man obsessed ... with perfection, taste and more.  This obsession has produced remarkable results.  Chef Ducasse is the first chef to own restaurants with three Michelin stars in three different cities, and holds a total of nineteen Michelin stars. So, when I came across his recipe for Curried Haddock and Mussels, I decided that I would give it a try.

I found the recipe on Food & Wine's website, which was entitled Curried Cod and Mussels.  This title presented a dilemma.  Cod has been overfished to the point that stocks, especially those in the Atlantic Ocean, are endangered. (By contrast, cod fished near Iceland and near Maine have been better managed.)  Staring at the little red fish sticker on the price tag, which indicated that these particular cod fillets were not fished in a sustainable way, I decided that I needed to go with another fish.

Fortunately, Food & Wine mentioned that when Chef Ducasse makes this dish, he uses haddock rather than cod.  This was the one bit of information that I needed.  Like cod, haddock had been overfished for years. However, the federal government began to regulate haddock fishing and, over time, the stocks had completely replenished themselves.  This makes haddock a sustainable choice.  So, I bought a couple of haddock fillets and proceeded to make this dish.

One last note about this recipe.  It calls for the use of curry powder.  I used Maharajah Curry Powder from Penzey's Spices.  I like this powder because, for every one hundred pounds of curry powder made, Penzey's uses one pound of saffron.  As a result, this powder costs a little more than the ordinary curry powder, but I think it is worth it. 

Adapted from a recipe by Alain Ducasse, available at Food & Wine
Serves 3-4

1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
3/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 Granny Smith apple, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 thyme sprigs
2 pounds of mussels, scrubbed
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound of skinless haddock fillets, bones removed,
     cut into 2 inch chunks
Crusty bread for serving

1.  Rehydrate the porcini mushrooms.  Soak the porcini in the boiling water until softened, 10 minutes.  Strain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid and rinse to remove any grit.  Finely chop the mushrooms.

2.  Prepare the curry sauce.  In a large pot, heat the oil.  Add the shallots, apple, garlic, curry powder, thyme sprigs, and porcini.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring until the shallots are softened, about five minutes.

3.  Steam the mussels.  Add the mussels and toss.  Add the wine.  Bring to a boil, cover and cook over high heat until the mussels have opened, about three minutes.  

4.  Cook the Haddock.  Add the cream and 1/2 cup of the porcini soaking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit.  Bring to a simmer.  Nestle the haddock in the broth, cover and cook until the fish lightly flakes, about four minutes.  Discard the thyme.  

5.  Plate the dish.  Transfer the cod and mussels to large bowls and spoon the broth over top.  Serve with crusty bread.


The magazine Food & Wine suggests that the Curried Haddock and Mussels dish is best paired with a Sauvignon Blanc.  One such wine, which is produced in the Loire Valley, is the following: 

Domaine de Chevilly -- Quincy (2009).
100% Chenin Blanc
Le Centre Loire, Loire Valley, France
Grapefruit and other citrus fruitiness. 


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