My inspiration for this mussel preparation was a recent meal my wife and I had in Arizona at the Restaurant Progress, which reawakened my longtime craving for the ocean’s bivalve mollusks. The first time I had mussels was in a small café in the 9th district of Paris in the late fall of 1995, that version prepared with white wine, garlic, shallots, heavy cream, butt er, and parsley and served with a side of frites. It was really cold that day and the meal filled me with warmth and energy. I was hooked.
The meal in Arizona brought back that memory from France and inspired me for a cooking challenge when I got home. Whenever I have something good in a restaurant, I like to see if I can make it at home and this dish is one of those challenges that was successful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
2 pounds Prince Edward Island mussels, cleaned and debearded if your fishmonger hasn’t done it for you
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks
2 stalks lemongrass, crushed with the heel of a knife
1½ tablespoons Th ai green curry paste (Thai Kitchen)
1 hot chile pepper, halved or thinly sliced (Thai red, habanero, or any variety you like; alternatively, substitute with ½ teaspoon dried chili fl akes)
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ cup coconut water
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk (full-fat is best)
1 lime, ½ juiced and ½ cut into wedges for serving
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 Kaffir lime leaves
Handful of Thai basil leaves, torn
Rinse mussels in water and keep cold until ready to cook. Do not store in water or you will drown them.
Heat coconut oil in a large soup pot over high heat. Add ginger, lemongrass, green curry paste, chile pepper, and garlic; cook for a minute or 2, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add coconut water, coconut milk, juice from ½ lime, fish sauce, and lime leaves. Cover pot with a slight vent of the lid and bring to a boil.
When pot has come to a boil, add clean mussels, cover with the lid, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove lid and transfer open mussels to a serving platter; remove and discard any mussels that haven’t opened. Pour sauce over cooked mussels and sprinkle with Thai basil just before serving. Enjoy with a side of fries.