This week promises to be a busy one. I’m gearing up for a giveaway that I am excited to share with you and I will also finally be able to announce the details of a fun event that I was invited to participate in. For now, I will share with you this simple recipe for mussels. I typically prepare the shellfish in classic French fashion–cooked in white wine, garlic and herbs–but with leftover coconut milk begging to be used, I had the perfect excuse to try something new.
Coconut milk, curry powder, fresh ginger, lemongrass powder (I rediscovered a long-forgetten jar that I bought a while ago, fresh would be better, of course), garlic and limes came together beautifully in this simple starter. The inspiration came from a trendy restaurant in Oakland that our friends introduced us to a couple of years ago that serves mussels in coconut broth. And while its name escapes me at the moment, I have never quite forgotten one of its signature dishes. The broth, infused with the briny freshness of the mussels mingling with the rich coconut milk and the punch of the curry begged to be slurped from the bowl. But you know I wouldn’t do that, right? At least not in public. Instead, I filled myself up with loads and loads of crusty bread trying to mop it all up; I couldn’t get enough. Though I promised to recreate the dish myself after that visit, it hasn’t happened until now.
This is my take on that tasty bowl of mussels that I enjoyed a couple of years ago. I let my taste buds (and the ingredients I had available) guide me and ended up with this flavorful, colorful appetizer.
I used Italian parsley here since I had originally planned to make the French version of steamed mussels. I also had to use a lemon in these pictures because the mussels refused to cooperate with me during the first photo shoot and since mussels don’t like to wait before being enjoyed, I used up my limes, squeezing them onto the mussels and eating half the batch between shots. By the time I realized the first set of pictures wasn’t going to work, my limes were history. The lemons were the perfect stand-ins and I would bet that your taste buds wouldn’t protest too much if you found yourself fresh out of limes yourself.
- 2 pounds mussels
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons curry powder (I used hot curry powder for a lively kick)
- 1 small knob ginger, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
- salt, to taste
- ½ teaspoon lemongrass powder (or fresh lemongrass)
- juice of ½ lime plus more for garnish
- Chopped cilantro or Italian parsley
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat then add the garlic and ginger. Cook for about a minute then add the curry powder and lemongrass powder (or fresh if using) and cook for 1-2 minutes until the curry is fragrant. Add the chicken stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
- Add the lime juice and some chopped cilantro or parsley and season with salt and fish sauce (if using). The fish sauce really does add bigger savory flavor.
- Add the mussels to the pot and cover. Simmer for a few minutes or until the mussels have opened up. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with more chopped cilantro (make sure to discard the mussels that didn’t open). Serve with lime wedges a baguette to mop up all that spicy sauce.