I am not a big shellfish person but mussels are my one exception. I love them in tomato sauce. I love them in a coconut curry sauce. The list goes on and on. Thai. Red. Curry. Mussels. This really doesn’t need an explanation. It trumps my list of ways to cook mussels. And don’t get me started on the thai red curry sauce. It is the best part of this recipe. Soak up some french bread in that? Yes, please!
Mussels are normally considered an appetizer and they look pretty impressive at a dinner party. But, in my household, we don’t care about food classifications. We eat this stuff as our main course. I mean, why not? It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s filling! The only part of this that might slow you down is the prep. It takes a while to scrub and debeard the mussels, one by one.
How to prepare mussels
First, wash and scrub the mussels: Grab a colander and place your mussels inside. Put the colander in the sink and run it under cold water. Wash each mussel using the hard side of a kitchen sponge and scrub gently in a singular motion from the clasp to the mouth to ensure that you have gotten rid of any debris on the outer shells.
Next, debeard the mussels: “Beards” are a stringy mass that are attached to the side of the mussel. Gently hold the mussel in one hand, and grab the beard with the other. Pull it towards the buttom on the the mussel where the clasp is. These “beards” have a tendency to be stubborn so pull firmly. Don’t worry, you won’t crack open the shell.
I like to give them one quick last rinse after everything has been debearded. Now, you are good to go!
Now, let’s make this dish. Saute the tomato, ginger and garlic in butter. I can already smell that amazing aroma just talking about it. After a couple of minutes, the garlic should have softened. Add your red curry paste, coconut milk and half the cilantro. Stir well to combine and then cover and let that simmer for a couple of minutes. Next add the mussels and cover those babies up. Once the mussels open (in about 5 minutes), add the basil leaves, fish sauce and lime juice. Let the flavours fester in there for a minute. Pour into a serving bowl and throw out any mussels that do not open.
Serve hot and sprinkle the remaining cilantro on top. Don’t forgot to serve with a side of french bread. For best results, slightly toast the bread before serving.
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 tbsp. garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ tbsp. ginger, grated
- 1 can lite coconut milk (14 oz.)
- 2 tbsp. thai red curry paste
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1.5 lbs. mussels, debearded and scrubbed (about 30 mussels)
- ¼ cup Thai basil leaves
- 1 tbsp. Thai fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- french bread for dipping (optional)
- Melt the butter in a large wok over medium heat.
- Add the tomatoes, garlic and ginger and saute for about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the coconut milk and red curry paste. Add in half the cilantro. Stir to combine.
- Let simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Add the mussels. Cover the wok and continue to cook until the mussels open. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Add the basil leaves, fish sauce and lime juice. Cook for another minute.
- Serve in a large bowl with a side of french bread for dipping. Sprinkle the remaining cilantro on top.