Jerk mussels with scotch bonnet, beer and coconut

There is a country in the West Indies named St Vincent and the Grenadines, comprised of a delicate string of beguiled Grenadine islands, pointing the way to the steeply rain forested ‘mainland’ island of St Vincent itself, with its volcanic jet-black beaches and patch work small farms. One of these islands, Bequia, has a particular magic about it. Difficult to reach, and wonderfully lacking in the info structure of tourism, large hotels, malls and the like, Bequia has all the charisma of old Jamaica, without the danger. Little old ladies still sell bananas, ripe mangos and coconuts beside pot-holed roads that wend their way amongst the small holdings from the sleepy azure Caribbean side of the island to the wild and windswept Atlantic side. From-edged reggae music thrums from each of the ramshackle restaurants dotted along beaches overhung with lush forest. The health and vibrancy of nature here felt riotously, and no more so than in the food you eat. Most places offer no menu. Its catch of the day, marinated the jerk way and grilled over and open fire, blackened, crispy chicken, fresh lobsters, moreish sticky rice, zesty salads and always a bottle of the cold local beer- drunk straight from the bottle icy cool and refreshing. Certain places in the world have their own distinct/ authentic charm- through the people that live there, the contemporary and historical architecture and art, to the toe tapping music, vivid colours and (for us) most of all the food. This is something that makes a place so unforgettable and special. A big part of the Tart backlog of cooking inspirations has come from our travels, both being lucky enough to travel, we come home buzzing with ideas and excitement to get recipe testing. So, taking the flavours, the beats and the heat, combining with a crisp strong beer- we have brought the beautiful beaches and soul of Bequia into our small- less vibrant London kitchens. We have created an intensely flavoursome dish, which we think is paired perfectly with mussels, mussels can take more robust tastes than other shellfish, and we hope you enjoy it! Mussels are fun and laid back, to get messy and noisy with. We would suggest serving with fries, a limey mayonnaise and a big rocket, herby salad… and an ice cold beer.


    Serves 4


    3 shallots, sliced

    1 carrot, finely diced

    medium bunch coriander, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped

    3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

    1 inch ginger- minced

    small bunch thyme, roughly chopped

    2 bay leaves

    1 scotch bonnet, deseeded and finely chopped

    1 tbsp jerk spice mix

    1 tsp all spice

    1 tbsp tomato puree

    bottle of beer- your choice

    1 tin coconut milk

    1 tbsp honey

    1 tbsp soy sauce

    1 orange- zested

    1kg mussels- clean and rest in cold water

    1 lime


1.  In a wok, or big sauce pan, over a medium heat with a glug of ground nut oil- add the sliced shallots and carrots and stir until translucent, then add the coriander stalks, garlic , thyme, ginger and bay. Keep stirring, making sure not to burn, for a good few minutes- until fragrant.

2.   Then add the scotch bonnet and spices. Stir for a few more minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients, up to the orange zest. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. 

3. Then add the mussels and turn up the heat and place the lid on top for a few minutes, until the shells open. Squeeze lime over and scatter over the coriander leaves.

4.     We would suggest making a coriander and coconut chutney for the top- wiz fresh coconut, coriander leaves with plenty of lime and a little ground cumin.