I’ve written about mussels before because I think that they are impressive to serve to guests while being super simple to prepare. They work just as well as a seated first course as they do standing around a kitchen island during happy hour. Paired with a salad and a crusty baguette, mussels have a way of magically relaxing guests at dinner, as only eating with one’s fingers can.
But I’m also a fan of mussels as a weeknight meal. All the better if your kids, like mine, are bivalve fanatics. You see, the thing about this dish is that no matter what the specific style, you are making a sauce and throwing in the mussels during the final simmer. The pot gets covered; five minutes pass; and voila, dinner is served! None of the recipes will specify this but I will let you in on a little secret. You can make your mussel sauce or broth in advance and just reheat on the stove when you’re ready to eat. Once the sauce is simmering, add the mussels and you are good to go.
So, here is one of my favorite recipes–the other two being Mussels with Leek Cream Sauce and Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Sauce. I found this recipe for Thai Red Curry Mussels on The Kitchn and didn’t make any adjustments as it was perfect as is.
It’s best to buy the mussels the same day you are going to eat them so just plan a quick stop at the fish counter on your way home from work or carpooling. They should be stored in a bowl, in their unsealed bag, in the back of your fridge until ready to cook. Before adding to the pot, quickly clean them under running water, checking for and removing any beards. Discard any mussels with cracked shells or those that are opened and stay open when tapped against the counter. Also discard any mussels that don’t open after cooking–you should never pry open a cooked mussel, clam or oyster.
- 2 to 3 pounds mussels
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 4 Tbls red curry paste
- 2 Tbls brown sugar
- 1 Tbls fish sauce
- 1 14-oz can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 1 ciabatta loaf, thinly sliced and toasted
- Pick over the mussels, discarding any that are broken or that don't close within a few minutes after tapping them gently on the counter. Clean and de-beard the remaining mussels. Set the cleaned mussels in a bowl near the stove.
- Film a large skillet with olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the peppers. Cook until they are soft and the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and ginger, and cook another 30 seconds.
- Add the curry paste, brown sugar, and fish sauce to the vegetables and stir to coat evenly. Shake the can of coconut milk thoroughly before opening it, then pour it into the pan along with the chicken broth. Bring the curry to a simmer and let it cook until reduced and slightly thickened.
- Add the mussels to the pan and cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that haven't fully opened after 5 minutes.
- Transfer the mussels and curry to a serving bowl. Squeeze half the lime over top and tuck the remaining wedges around the bowl. Eat immediately with the toasted baguette for dipping into the curry sauce.