These mussels are absolutely delicious — steamed in a sweet, spicy, fragrant mixture of coconut milk and green curry paste and then topped with sweet basil and bright lime juice, they are a joy to eat. And when you’re done with the mussels you’re basically left with the most amazing soup ever. The night I made these, my friends drank the sauce straight from their bowls and then followed me into the kitchen to drink the sauce left in the pot.
About two years ago, I spent weeks sourcing ingredients and experimenting with different combinations and methods hoping to come up with a perfect curry paste. Though I ended up with some pretty good stuff, not only did it take a ton of time and money to get all those ingredients, but it didn’t taste any better than the green curry paste I was buying at the little Thai store I found tucked away off of Mott Street. After talking to a lot of different people, I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt like making my own curry was a huge undertaking that was rarely worth the effort and I started feeling much less guilty. Now I buy good quality paste and add ingredients to make it my own when I need to.
If I may be so bold, I would like to recommend some brands that, after years of experimenting, I have settled on as my favorites: Maesri and Mae Anong. The best places to shop for these are Asian markets, but if you don’t have access to those in your town then your local Whole Foods should have a brand that you can use. And never forget the wonder of Amazon.com for having everything you need delivered to your door
When its time to use your curry paste you can figure out which flavors you want to amplify and add ingredients accordingly. When I make these mussels, I usually add a lot of lime to cut through the richness of the coconut milk and I throw in a touch of fish sauce to play up the seafood flavor that the mussels will add to the sauce as they cook. Chopped up basil and Thai chilies add a lot of brightness to finish the dish.
- 2 pounds of mussels
- 1 can of regular coconut milk
- 1 can of light coconut milk*
- 4 tablespoons of green curry paste
- Juice of 4 limes
- 10 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
- 1 Thai chili, finely chopped**
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- Sliced limes for serving
- Olive oil
- Wash the mussels thoroughly under cold water but do not scrub them. Discard any mussels that have opened and will not shut after being pinched lightly or tapped against the sink. Remove the beard from any mussels. (The beard is any tough fibrous strands protruding from the shell.)
- In a large pot, sauté the shallots and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. When they are softened, but not brown, add the green curry paste and chilies and stir in the pot for 15 second. Add the fish sauce and coconut milk and whisk or stir the mixture until all of the curry paste is incorporated and the sauce is smooth. At this point taste for seasoning. Depending on the brand of curry paste you use, you may want to add another tablespoon or two of paste.
- Add the mussels to the pot and cover the pot tightly with the lid. Allow them to cook for 5-7 minutes until most of the shells have opened.
- Take the pot off of the heat. Add the lime juice and basil to the pot and stir quickly.
- Serve with a few slices of lime on the side and with crusty bread or with a bowl of white rice.
** Using a whole chili will make the dish slightly spicy. You can always add more after you have tasted for flavor. If you would like to cut the heat then don't add any/all of the seeds.