Have you ever fallen in love with a particular dish at a restaurant, only to find it suddenly banished from the menu? If you have, then you understand. I often went to a local restaurant to satisfy my craving for their Coconut Curry Mussels. They were Heaven in a bowl. But one night, I sat down, opened the menu – and bam!, they were gone. No warning. No farewell party. No notice in the newspaper. Only the memory of tender, succulent mussels poached in a curried coconut broth with a dash of lime to tease me. My taste buds still haven’t recovered from the shock. It’s mussels season, guys! What were you thinking?
So I’ve been craving this dish for a couple of months now. It’s perfect for dinner. It’s light enough that you don’t need a nap afterwards (a welcome relief this time of year), but enough of a dish to be a full meal along with a simple salad and a hunk of bread. And the bread is obligatory, just so you know, to ensure capturing every drop of the amazing broth.
As a bonus, this dish is super easy to make – and after the holidays, it’s nice to take a break from all the cooking and baking that began before Thanksgiving.
Coconut Curry Mussels
- 2 pounds mussels
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth, or seafood stock
- 1 - 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Sliced scallions, especially the dark green tops
- Coarsely chopped cilantro
- Scrub the mussels, and yank out any beards slipping through the shell with a pair of pliers. Put them on a bunch of ice cubes in a bowl and refrigerate until you need them. I’ve kept them that way for 1 day.
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat – I use my Le Creuset large Dutch oven. Add the olive oil and heat it up. Add the onion and pepper (it should sizzle when it hits the pan) and sauté until softened, about 6 – 7 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Thoroughly stir in the curry paste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, vegetable stock, lime juice, and stir. Bring to a simmer, stirring continuously.
- Reduce the heat to medium and carefully add the mussels. If you pile them in with abandon, the shells may break. Cover the pot and simmer just until the mussels open, 5 – 6 minutes. If you forget about them, they'll get tough and rubbery, which no one likes.
- Ladle some broth into bowls, followed by the mussels, and finishing with more broth. Be sure to discard any shells that don’t open. Garnish with sliced scallions or cilantro if you choose. Serve immediately with sliced, warm baguettes with butter.