Coconut Curry Mussels

When Garrett McCord told me he had the best mussels recipe in the world I was skeptical, that is until I tried it. Yikes this is good! ~Elise

When I need a good party food or want to impress some friends I usually turn to mussels cooked in coconut milk and curry. It’s affordable, easy to prepare, and has a definite wow factor. I mean, who can’t resist the look of these obsidian peaks jutting out from a plate from canary-colored broth? These mussels take on the flavors of the broth which is spiked with lemongrass, pungent red chilies, and kaffir lime leaves leaving them with a distinct Thai flavor. The mussels themselves imbue the broth with a slight, ocean brine that cuts through the richness of the coconut milk. This recipe will feed four people happily or make an excellent appetizer for a group. This is a dish best served with beer and crusty bread.

Coconut Curry Mussels Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.


  • 2 lbs of mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 thai chili, finely chopped (can substitute good pinch of chili flakes)
  • 3 teaspoons of ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 can of coconut milk (13.5 fl. oz.)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped into four pieces and smashed
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves* (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges

*Kaffir lime leaf: a key ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai, and Hmong cuisine; can be found in Asian Markets, though many markets now carry them in the produce aisles with other fresh herbs. The taste is very distinct and can't be substituted. However, you can make this dish without the leaves and the mussels will still taste great.


1 Place mussels in a bowl of cold water so the mussels will spit out any sand or mud. Let them sit for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat. Toss any mussels that are open as these are dead. Debeard the mussels, pulling out their byssal threads (aka: their "beards") and place them in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.

2 Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and stir for a few minutes until they become soft and slightly translucent. Add the chilies, ginger, and curry powder and stir for a minute until fragrant.

3 Add the chicken broth and reduce half. Add the coconut milk, salt, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves if using and bring to a boil. Drain and add the mussels, reduce heat to medium and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 6-7 minutes until the mussels open. Discard any that are closed as these were dead before cooking. (Some may only be slightly open, if you have to debate on whether it's good to eat or not, toss it.) Spoon mussels into bowls and pour over with broth. Garnish with chopped cilantro and juice from lime wedges.

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Showing 4 of 21 Comments

  • Maggi

    Unfortunately, Kaffir Lime Leaves are not ubiquitous in our part of the US (why, I have no idea) but I suppose one could substitute about 1/2 tablespoon of green curry paste for the lemongrass, lime leaves, Thai chili, ginger and curry powder, right?

    Indeed, Maggie. That would be a great substitute. Just so you know though, lemongrass is easy to grow at home. I started a bush from a single stalk I got at the market and now I always have a fresh supply. (It’s a wild grass so keep it in a big pot like you would mint.) ~Garrett

  • mantha

    Oh, those flavors! Beautiful idea about growing lemongrass, too. Could you use galangal with, or instead of, the ginger? Little more exotic taste, but very similar — not sure how it would be with shellfish.

    About thai chilis — if they’re like the ones I used to grow, you really do need only one (and maybe using gloves while mincing it isn’t a bad idea). People who like it hotter can add more to their own serving.

    You can use galangal if you so choose. ~Garrett

  • Joanne

    Fantastic recipe! Mussels are definitely one of my top favorite foods – so inexpensive and are so versatile (quick cooking too!). Plus, anything you need to dip bread into is a winner in my book!


  • Marya

    I’ve made something similar with white fish, scallops and shrimp instead of the mussels and it turned out delicious as well. I’ll try your recipe too as it seems much simpler than the one I tried before.

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