Even if your feet are still tingling from the mussel-lufa-shore

Mussel Risotto with Pea shoots and Truffle Oil | Braaied Crayfish

I am from Johannesburg, well Benoni, but studied at UCT and so Cape Town became my second home. I love Cape Town and miss living there. Every opportunity that comes my way to visit that marvelous place I jump at, which so happens to occur often. Lucky for me, my boyfriend is a freelancer and regularly visits Cape Town for work. And if he goes to Cape Town I get to go to Cape Town (even if it’s just for a weekend).

Although Cape Town, to me, is one of the most perfect holiday destinations, my boyfriend and I also like to visit other special places the Western Cape has to offer. One of our favourite places to visit is Paternoster. It is a fishing village that I fell in love with 3 years ago. It is a beautiful piece of the world. One day I will hopefully own a place down there until then, there are a range of B&Bs and self-catering cottages to stay at. Some of them are quite pricy, but a lot of them are very reasonably priced.

During your stay in Paternoster you can buy fresh fish from the local fisherman. Depending on the weather, they go out every morning. Around twelve or one o’clock in the afternoon you can catch them pulling into the bay where you can meet them and have your choice of the freshest fish to pick from.

Paternoster is also a great place to get crayfish for a very cheap price (R30 – R40 a crayfish). And as Lord Byron notes: “A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and Champagne, the only true feminine and becoming viands”.As you drive around, you will be stopped by many locals trying to sell crayfish. However it is illegal to buy crayfish from them out of season. I know it is tempting, but you don’t wont to contribute to the decrease in the fish population.

What there are an abundance of, and generally always in season, are mussels. Before I visit Paternoster I make sure I buy a mussel license. You can purchase them from a post office for R85. The license lasts a year and you can pick about 40 mussels a day.

It is a lot of fun to take a stroll down the beach during low-tide, checkers packet in hand, and climb the rocks and scourge for mussels. I usually go bare foot and end up with raw feet from standing on all the empty old mussel shells that plague the shores. The spot where I find the best mussels is like a mussel burial ground.

It so happens, as well, that the best mussels are found furthest from the shore. You have to brave the waves crashing around you and quickly, as the wave goes out, dip your hands into an ice-cold rock pool and grab a mussel (often accompanied by lost of tugging and pulling) before the wave comes back.

It is a wonderful feeling picking your own mussels and a delicious treat to eat the finest and freshest mussels. Even if your feet are still tingling from the mussel-lufa-shore, to eat what one has hunted and gathered is certainly worth it.

Mussel Risotto with Pea shoots and Truffle Oil.

1 kg Mussels

5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves chopped and put into a little Truffle oil to steep

2 Fresh chillies, de-seeded and chopped

250ml dry white wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 onion chopped finely

400g Arborio rice

1 Tablespoon tomato passata

Juice of ½ lemon

1 Tablespoon of chopped parsley

Salt & pepper

Punch of pea shoots

75g cold butter, cut into small cubes and kept in the fridge (to be added at the end of the risotto)

Parmesan to serve (optional),

(It isn’t the done thing to put cheese in seafood, but I’ve seen Italian chefs do this and I like it with a bit of cheese. Use it as seasoning rather than for flavour — don’t add so much that it tastes like cheese but if you want to, add some).


If any mussels are open tap them slightly on the kitchen counter, discard the ones that don’t close – you only want to eat the alive ones. Scrub the mussels and pull out their beards.

To make the stock, heat 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a large pan (preferably heavy-based). Take 1 teaspoon of the garlic out of the truffle oil in which it has been steeping (but reserve the oil) and add to the pan with half the chopped chilli. Cook for a minute or so, without allowing it to colour; then put in the mussels and cover with a lid. Shake the pan and, after a minute add 150ml of the wine. Continue to cook over a high heat, letting the alcohol evaporate. After about 2–4 minutes, the mussels will have opened. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon from the stock, take most of the mussels out of their shells, keeping a few in their shells for garnish. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened.

Add the tomato paste and 2.5 litres of water to the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 15minutes. When the stock is cooked, strain it through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Now you are ready to make the risotto. Have the stock at a bare simmer.

Heat the reaming extra-virgin olive oil in another pan and then add the chopped onion, the garlic in the truffle oil (again, reserving the oil)and the remaining chilli. Cook till onions are translucent. Add the rice and stir around to coat in the oil and ‘toast’ the grains. Add the reaming wine. Let the wine evaporate completely.

Start to add the stock, a ladle or two at a time, stirring the rice continuously. Also, add the tomato passata along with the first ladleful of stock. When each addition of stock has almost been completely absorbed by the rice, add the next ladle of stock.

Carry on cooking the risotto for about 15–17 minutes and adding the stock continuously. The risotto is ready when the grains are soft, but still al dente.

Turn down the heat, add the shelled mussels, 2 tablespoons of the garlic truffle oil and the lemon juice. Season to taste.

Now, with a wooden spoon, vigorously beat in the cold butter cubes.

The risotto as Georgio Locatelli puts it should be: All’onda – it should move like waves. Before serving, if the risotto is too firm beat in a little more of the hot stock. Add the chopped parsley, garnish with the mussels in their shells and the pea shoots and drizzle with a little more truffle oil and, if you want to, a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Braaied Crayfish with Tomato and Pepper Salsa and Crushed New Potatoes with Dill.

Clean crayfish, brush with melted parsley and garlic butter. Place them directly on the braai and braai till crayfish flesh turns opaque, but still tender.

Mix a handful of chopped cherry tomatoes with chopped grilled peppers, add 3 sprigs of chopped spring onions, and dress with red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste.

Boil a bag of new potatoes. Crush lightly with a fork or potato masher and add a generous knob of butter and chopped dill. Season to taste.


  • Joss Josephy says:

    WOW Kristy I <3 your Blog it is Beautiful, delicious and Scrumptious… so Proud of you…hoping to read you on the glossy pages of an international Magazine soon… beautiful Photographs too…Svea would be proud especially after our great "pin hole" photos we made 🙂

    Come to Japan and we can go on a Japanese culinary adventure and find the weird and wacky 🙂

    Love you Homie

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