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Mussel Kinilaw

Mussel Kinilaw

A few years ago I planted a little calamansi fruit tree in our balcony… and then I waited… and waited… and waited some more. My tree never seemed to bear much fruit. If I was lucky, I would get three or four calamansi and I was ready to give up – the tree was taking up space but not giving me much to work with. I was ready to uproot the tree and plant something else.

A few months ago I noticed a few calamansi budding from the branches and so I waited a little bit more (after all, what was another month after waiting all those years) and suddenly the fruit just kept coming and wouldn’t stop! I managed to collect over 3 large bowls of the fruit, much more than I would immediately need so I juiced them and froze them in little ice cubes to be used in the future.

For those who are unfamiliar with calamansi, they are a native citrus very common in the Philippines. When I lived in the PHilippines I used to enjoy an ice cold glass of calamansi juice (sweetened with a little sugar or honey). I’ve also seen some people use it in desserts like a calamansi curd for macarons. Me? I prefer to use it as part of a “sawsawan” or dipping sauce. Usually the “sawsawan” will be some sort of combination of fish sauce, soy or vinegar which we then use to flavour our dishes. Think deep fried crispy piece of fish served with a dipping sauce of calamansi and fish sauce… or pork belly grilled over charcoal and served with soy, vinegar and garlic. Now you get the idea!

The recipe below is as simple as it gets. I’ve used the juice of the calamansi in a “Kinilaw” which the Philippine’s version of a ceviche. The dish is served a “pulutan” (which means to “pick up”) or appetizer and is usually made with fresh fish (I like to use snapper). For this recipe I’ve made it with some mussels which I’ve cooked first and then doused in the kinilaw marinade right before serving.

Calamansi

Calamansi

Mussel Kinilaw

  • 1 kilo mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 long red pepper
  • 1 long green pepper
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cm ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic gloved, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk or coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons coconut vinegar or cane vinegar (any Filipino brand will do)
  • 2 tablespoons calamansi juice
  • salt to taste
  1. Place the mussels in a pan and a splash of water. Gently heat until the mussels are cooked (careful not to overcook them)
  2. Once the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and place in the refrigerator until they are cold.
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over the mussels right before serving.

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