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Penny De Los Santos
Electrical Banana


Norman Van Aken, ©2014 All Rights Reserved, From “My Key West Kitchen by Norman and Justin Van Aken”.

Yield: Serves 6

For the Mussel-Saffron Sauce:

1/4 Cup pure olive oil

1 Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded and minced

6 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

24 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded

1 star anise pod

1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Cups fresh orange juice

1/2 teaspoon saffron

1 Cup heavy cream

1 Cup unsweetened coconut milk

Kosher salt, to taste

For the Fish:

Six- to 7-ounce grouper fillets, trimmed

1 Tablespoon pure olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the sauce:  Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan (with a tight-fitting lid on hand).  Add the chile pepper, shallots and garlic.  Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to let the vegetables soften and flavor the oil.

Add the mussels, star anise and pepper and stir.  Add the orange juice and cover the pot.  Transfer the mussels as they open to a colander set over a bowl to catch the liquid.  (They start opening after about 3 minutes; just take them out as they open, cover the pan again and keep checking for more open ones—about 10 minutes total).

Reduce the orange and mussel juices for about 10 minutes, uncovered, until you have about 1 cup.  Add the saffron, heavy cream and coconut milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally (be careful as the cream can boil over).  Reduce the cream until it just barely coats the back of a spoon, 5 to 8 minutes.  Strain into a bowl, discarding the solids, then strain again through a fine-mesh sieve to remove some of the black pepper flecks.  Set aside.

Put the grouper on a large plate and lightly brush both sides with the olive oil.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Prepare an outdoor grill for grilling over high heat or heat a large grill pan over high heat.  Grill the grouper for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side and 2 to 3 minutes on the second side.  You will know it’s done when it flakes easily with a fork.

Transfer the fish to warm serving plates and spoon some of the sauce around the fish.  (The sauce is quite rich so a little goes a long way).  Garnish with tangerine or other citrus sections and serve with cooked asparagus or the best seasonal vegetable.


Norman Van Aken has been described as legendary, visionary and a trailblazer. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.