Good Friday we decided on a whim to drive down to the Coromandel. Everywhere was booked out, of course, and when that’s the case, the helpful moteliers and B&B operators might refer you Pat. Pat lives right in the centre of the township and if you’re lucky, she might have a few spare beds you can use. If you’re even luckier, she might whip up a batch of her delicious mussel fritters, and some crumbed fresh snapper, and pop them on the large table in the semi-outdoors communal kitchen. If you’re triply lucky, the lovely Cook Islander couple in their late 60s, who visit the Coromandel for fishing trips any chance they get, might also be there. On the day we both left, they sent us off with an iced package of fresh snapper fillets. Huge fillets, they were, and I used them that night to make a raw snapper laab. Also staying were a South Indian family who heated up a selection of beautifully fragrant curries they had prepared at home, and another Indian family who stewed strong, milky tea on the stovetop. The place was like an international Food Court!
Pat tells me she makes hundreds of the mussel fritters at an annual local event to raise money for kids with heart problems – I’ll try to find details and post here. I tried making some mussel fritters based on Pat’s ones again at home, here’s a rough guide – I wasn’t measuring at all so perhaps just start with a half cup of flour and adjust liquid ratio from there. My two girls devoured these, and it’s easier for them to eat mussels this way when they’re chopped into bits:
Steam and open your mussels and remove the beards. Cut them (using scissors is easiest) into smallish pieces. In a bowl, mix enough flour and beer to make a thickish batter. Season with salt and white pepper. Add either chopped spring onions or parsley for colour and flavour, and finely sliced shallots. Mix in mussel pieces. Cook in spoonfuls on a hot, greased heavy-bottomed frying pan, until golden on both sides. serve hot, with a wedge of lemon and dipping sauces, if you like.