Mussels with a Southeast Asian Flavor

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

The first time Steve and I had mussels was on our first trip to France, a year or so out of college. Driving through Normandy to pay homage at the D-Day landing beaches of World War II, we stopped at a modest family restaurant and hotel, where we were served a huge bowlful of mussels steamed in wine—it was utterly delightful!

Since then, Moules Marinière (mussels in white wine) make it on our menu at home when we want something special, but quick. In fact, that’s what Dave and Chris made me for Mother’s Day dinner a few weeks ago.

For an easy recipe and primer on making Moules Marinière, check out our Special Fork archives for a short how-to video demo by Dave.

Recently, to change it up, I decided to make mussels with a Southeast Asian flavor profile – something with coconut milk and lemongrass. The next day, Steve and I reheated the leftovers and served it over linguine, since we didn’t have any kind of Southeast Asian noodles in our pantry. It was still yummy.

Mussels in Coconut Milk with Thai Chile and Lemongrass
3 pounds mussels
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
1 can (14 ounces) light coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 Thai bird chile, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Sort through the mussels, discarding those that have cracked shells. If a mussel shell is open, tap or run it under cold water. The shell should close slowly. If the mussel doesn’t close, discard it. While sorting, remove any beards still attached to the mussel. The beard is a hairy growth on the mussel that can be pulled off by hand or removed with a knife. Thoroughly wash mussels under running water. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat; add shallot and lemongrass and sauté briefly just until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and chile; stir, then add the mussels. Cover immediately and heat over medium-high heat; simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the mussels have opened, shaking the pot once or twice.

Using a slotted spoon, turn mussels out into a serving bowl; discard any mussels that have not opened. Add lemon juice to the coconut milk mixture remaining in the pot, stir and pour over mussels.

Sprinkle mussels with cilantro and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

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Posted: May 22nd by Sandy_Hu