1 bunch flatleaf parsley, leaves and stalks separated
For the mussel soup
1kg/2lb 4oz mussels, cleaned, beards removed
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pinch saffron
250ml/9fl oz white wine
50ml/2fl oz vermouth
100ml/3½fl oz double cream
For the mussel fritters
2 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp mussel meat, from above, roughly chopped
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 thumb-sized piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped
4 tbsp gram flour
1 tsp fennel seeds
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
To make the pickled fennel, place the fennel in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix well and set aside for at least 2 hours.
Heat the star anise, allspice, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, vinegar, sugar and parsley stalks together in a pan. Bring to the boil, mix well then remove from the heat. Pour the pickling liquor over the fennel and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, stir through the parsley leaves.
To make the mussel soup, check to make sure the mussels are closed and discard any that don’t close when tapped lightly on a hard surface.
Heat the butter in a large lidded saucepan, add the shallots, celery, garlic and saffron and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mussels, wine and vermouth, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, or until the mussels are open.
Strain the cooking liquid into a clean pan and discard any mussels that haven’t opened, then remove the meat from the shells and set aside. Finely chop 3 tablespoons worth for the fritters.
Heat the mussel cooking liquor over a high heat and reduce the volume of the liquid by half. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
To make the fritters, heat the butter in a small pan over a low heat until just melted. Put the chopped mussels, onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, gram flour and fennel seeds in a bowl and mix well. Add the melted butter and mix again to form a batter.
Fill a deep-fat fryer or a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan two-thirds full with the oil. Heat to 180C (a cube of bread should turn brown in one minute when dropped in.) CAUTION: Hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.
Form the batter into patties and deep-fry for 2–3 minutes, until crisp and golden-brown.
To serve, divide the mussel meat between four bowls and top with the broth. Serve with the fritters and pickled fennel on the side.