Russell Holmes’s favourite local ingredient: Saltspring Mussels

The full, rich flavour of Saltspring mussels with a savoury chili-coconut sauce.

Credit: iStock

Saltspring Mussel Recipe


“Saltspring mussels are just full of flavour; I love eating them myself. I serve them sautéed in chili jam with coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. It’s so much more appealing than the basic white wine and cream. The jam brings out the sweetness without overpowering the musselsthey’re still centre stage. It’s dead simple to makethe jam is just eight components, mostly sugar and vinegar, then it’s just coconut milk and kaffir lime, which gives it a subtle lemongrass flavour.”

Russell Holmes, chef de cuisine, Metro Restaurant and Lounge, Vancouver

This summer specialty at Metro Restaurant involves two steps: first make a chili jam, then heat the mussels in a pan add chili jam and a coconut-milk sauce, and they’re ready to serve.

Chili Jam

3–4 chili peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
½ stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
15 g ginger, finely chopped
½ onion, finely diced
355 ml rice vinegar
450 ml sugar
one roasted pepper
15 g cilantro
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced

• Cook chili, lemongrass, ginger and onion with a small amount of fat in a pot until they are soft but not brown.
• Add rice vinegar and sugar and reduce by half.
• Remove pot from heat and add roasted pepper, cilantro and kaffir lime.


120 g mussels
20 ml grapeseed oil
40 ml chili jam
80 ml coconut milk
one kaffir lime leaf thinly sliced

• Place oil and mussels in pan; heat until almost smoking.
• Add chili jam, toss, cook for one minute.
• Add coconut milk and simmer.
• Arrange mussels in bowl with sauce; top with kaffir lime.