Mussels, Bone Marrow, Passion Fruit at The Kitchen at Maison

Words: Jess Spiro

Something is cooking at The Kitchen at Maison. Nestled in the pristine Franschhoek valley, Maison’s acclaimed Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg is preparing to unveil Maison’s new menu: a project five years in the making.

The result is a curated menu of interesting and complementing tastes, which diners are encouraged to explore in their own way. Enjoy the menu as a whole or pair a few dishes together, as you wish.

The mastery in this menu is the unabashed simplicity of it, the restraint shown to allow each and every individual ingredient to shine. If you need a reason to visit Franschhoek, let the Kitchen at Maison be that reason. Book a table soon, as the seasonal and local produce in the area inspires each dish and can change with the weather.
Mussels, Bone Marrow, Passion Fruit, Basil at The Kitchen at Maison
We managed to go behind the pass, into the kitchen alongside chef Arno Janse Van Rensburg, who breaks down the dish for us. Take a closer look into this beautiful mussel dish.

Mussels and Bone Marrow with a Passion Fruit Dressing, Basil and Mussel Cracker

Crush: What was the inspiration behind the dish?

Arno: Bringing together land and sea was the focus, utilizing the unique textures of both of these ingredients.

Crush: This sounds like an unusual combination of flavours, can you explain a bit about how they work together?
Arno: The mussels have a very ocean freshness to them, rich in savoury, kelp flavor. The bone marrow brings a buttery richness and a good amount of fat and the basil acts as a fresh vegetal component, and is clean in flavor. The juices of the mussels are captured by using it in a crisp wafer to garnish the dish. The passionfruit really brings the whole dish together with an acidic punch.
Mussels, Bone Marrow, Passion Fruit, Basil at The Kitchen at Maison
Mussels and Bone Marrow with a Passion Fruit Dressing, Basil and Mussel Cracker

 Serves: 4
Difficulty: a little effort
Prep time:  90 minutes (+ 12-24 hours)
Cooking time: 90 minutes

 100 g bone marrow (about 2 or 3 bones)
sea salt

750 g mussels, cleaned and beards removed (see note)
100 ml liquid of your choice (can be white wine, cider, stock or even water)

Mussel cracker
1/3 C (80 ml) mussel juice
80 g tapioca flour
oil, for deep frying

Passion fruit dressing
4/5 C (200 ml) passion fruit juice (about 1 kg of passion fruit)
small piece (5 g) green chili, deseeded and finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely chopped
20 g palm sugar
4 tsp (20 ml) fish sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) xanthan gum
salt and pepper

To serve
mussel cracker
small handful (about 10 g) of basil

Start this recipe the day before you wish to serve it.

Place the bone marrow in a container large enough to hold them. Using a jug measure, add cups of ice-cold water one at a time until you cover the bone marrow, keeping count of how many cups you’ve added as you go. Then add one teaspoon of sea salt per cup of water. Cover and keep in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. This will draw out the blood from the bones. When the bones are done soaking, push the marrow out of each one and set aside. Keep the bones for stock or give to your dogs as a chew toy treat. Set the marrow aside until ready to serve.

Place the mussels in and the liquid of your choosing into a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Cover with the lid and allow to steam for about 3 minutes, or until each mussel has opened. Strain the mussels and keep the mussel liquor (the liquid left at the bottom of the pan). Remove the mussels from their shells and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Mussel cracker
Measure 80 ml of the mussel liquor, storing the rest of the mussel liquor for use later. Mix in the tapioca flour to make a paste. Spread the mixture to about 1 cm thick between two sheets of thick plastic (book plastic works very well). Set up a steamer over a saucepan of boiling water and steam the tapioca mix for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 55 °C.

Cut the tapioca mix into 8 strips. Place in the oven to dehydrate overnight.

Passion fruit dressing
The next day, when ready to serve, make the passion fruit dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a blender and blitzing together. Strain, check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Preheat the oven grill. Place the bone marrow on a small roasting tray and place under the grill for about a minute. You only want the marrow to warm through and melt slightly, so don’t overcook it.

In a small saucepan, warm the mussels in a small amount of leftover mussel liquor or water.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan – you’ll know it’s hot enough when a cube of white bread turns golden brown in about 60 seconds. Remove the portioned mussel crackers from the oven and deep fry until crisp.

To serve
Place the warmed mussels and bone marrow on 4 (plates and drizzle with passion fruit dressing. Garnish with 2 or 3 basil leaves and the mussel cracker.

Note: you can order cleaned mussels from your fishmonger.

To make a reservation for this special new menu, call  021 876 2116 or visit the website for online bookings.
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