It’s hard to get enough of mussels in the summer. Pretty much everywhere I go these days, there’s some sort of mussels special on the menu, whether it’s a large appetizer for sharing or with a pasta or seafood casserole entree.
When I make mussels at home, they’re usually steamed with a minimal number of other ingredients, such as wine, shallots, and ginger. But sometimes I like to spice things up a bit (pun fully intended) by cooking it Thai-style with red curry paste. Store-bought mild red curry paste adds a bit of a kick, while the coconut milk and lime make this the quintessential summer dish. A bit of light brown sugar creates a lip-smacking sweet-and-sour curry.
You’ll need several changes of water to clean the mussels (a clean brush comes in handy for scrubbing the shells) and to pull the beards from the shells. But the cooking itself takes all of 5 or 6 minutes, which is all the time you really want to spend in front of the stove in July. I think the curry itself contains plenty of flavor already, but feel free to adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if you choose at the end of cooking.
There will be plenty of delicious curry left, so be sure to have plenty of white rice to pour the broth over or crusty French bread for dipping.
- 3 pounds mussels
- 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 14-ounce can unsweetened light coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold water, changing the water several times, to remove any grit. Debeard the mussels by removing the stringy bits in the seam where the two shells meet as best you can. Discard any mussels with cracked shells or any with open shells that don’t close when you gently tap them against the counter.
- Heat a deep sauté pan, wok, or medium pot over medium-high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates contact. Add the oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the garlic and ginger and cook briefly until aromatic, about 20 to 30 seconds. Add the curry paste and cook for another 30 to 40 seconds. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, and brown sugar.
- Bring the liquid to a boil. Add the mussels, cover, and steam for 4 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Uncover and add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
- Discard any mussels that have not opened, then transfer to a serving dish. Spoon the curry over the mussels and add lime wedges to the dish (for squeezing at the table.) Serve with rice or crusty French bread.