Cheap Treats from Chinatown:

A TASTE of Tomato and Basil Mussel Pot:

Woolworths TASTE recently invited bloggers to develop a recipe to be featured in the May edition of TASTE magazine. It could be for any course, canapés and desserts included. We were asked to use no more than 5 main ingredients (salt ‘n pepper, butter, oil, herbs and spices were the exception). The simpler it was to make the, better.

I am proud to say that my recipe was chosen to feature in the May edition of TASTE. It is the first time I have been featured in print and to be published in TASTE is just too fabulous. Please take the time to read and try the recipes entered by fellow bloggers. They can be found at the TASTE blogs page and will be in the upcoming e-newsletter.

mussle pot



Cheap Treats from Chinatown.

Cyrilldene in Bruma (Johannesburg), or what I like to call Chinatown, is a great place to find in-expensive and authentic Asian products. Along the street you will find vegetable vendors selling fresh coriander, ginger, spring onions, bok choy, fresh chestnuts, oyster mushrooms and other interesting Chinese vegetables. You will be surprised how much of the vegetables you can buy for not much money. A word of advice, take on a self-help ethos. Grab a packet (they have lots lying around) and pick and choose how much of everything you want. The vendors (and everyone else in Cyrilldene) don’t speak English, and before you know it (and can stop it) you have a whole bag of mung bean sprouts and 5 Lotus Roots when all you wanted was a bunch of coriander.

The supermarkets in Cyrilldene have everything you’ll ever need for any Oriental recipe. Since most of their customers are the local Chinese community, all the products are reasonably priced and fresh.

Cyrilldene is also a great place to buy seafood. Again at a very good price. A kilogram of frozen mussels in their shells costs around R45. In the recipe below I use a packet I bought from Cyrilldene. They tasted very fresh and were a descent size.

Cyrildene is also a great place to have lunch. What’s cool is that you know you’re getting authentic Chinese food. The loud sounds of Chinese mixed with the scent of soy sauce and Peaking Duck really makes one feel like they are in China enjoying an authentic Chinese dish.

TOMATO AND BASIL MUSSEL POT: (servers 4 as a starter)


tablespoon of olive oil

tablespoon butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons of dried origanum

2 anchovy fillets, chopped

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

70ml of white wine

1 tin of chopped peeled tomatoes

½ teaspoon of sugar

125ml of water

salt and pepper, to taste

1kg mussels, in their shells

handful of fresh Basil, torn

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, and origanum, allow to sweat for 5-7 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Place the tomato paste with the onions and cook for 2 minutes, add the anchovies. Add the wine and cook on high for about 2 minutes allowing the alcohol to cook off. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, water and sugar. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Bring down the heat (to the lowest setting). Simmer sauce for about 45mins. When the sauce is ready it should have a thin layer of orange-coloured oil on top, this indicates that the raw tomato flavour has been cooked out. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Prepare the Mussel Pot

I use a wok. Place the above tomato sauce in a wok or large saucepan, bring to the boil and add the mussels. Cook for 5-7 minutes (with the lid on, so the mussels can steam) or until the mussels are cooked. Add the torn basil leaves.

Serve with crusty bread – for dipping into the sauce.

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