Coconut Curry Mussels

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

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.

Coconut Curry Mussels

The mussels themselves infuse the broth with a light salty 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.

Serve with beer and crusty bread.

Coconut Curry Mussels Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 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.

Method

1 Soak raw mussels in cold water, then de-beard: 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 Sauté onions, chiles, ginger, curry powder: Heat the oil in a pot (large enough to hold all of the mussels) on medium high heat 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.

coconut-curry-mussels-method-1

3 Add broth and reduce, then add coconut milk, salt, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves: Add the chicken broth and reduce half. Add the coconut milk, salt, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves if using and bring to a boil.

coconut-curry-mussels-method-2

4 Add mussels: 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.

coconut-curry-mussels-method-3 coconut-curry-mussels-method-4

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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Garrett McCord

www.vanillagarlic.com

Garrett McCord is a food writer, writing instructor, culinary consultant, freelance food photographer, and recipe developer who shares his enthusiasm for food and the written word through his blog Vanilla Garlic. Garrett's cookbook, co-authored with Stephanie Stiavetti, is Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

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Showing 4 of 21 Comments

  • steve

    Hi Elise,
    I have made this recipe a couple of times and everyone raves but I don’t understand one section of your directions. After adding the coconut milk and bringing to a boil you say “drain then add mussels” if I drain what am I adding the mussels to. I have always skipped this process but could you explain to me what I am possibly misunderstanding.
    Thx

  • Nyna

    For anyone looking over the comments about curry, wet Thai paste curry versus the standard U.S. powder curry (such as Spice Islands brand): the two types of curry would make completely different taste profiles. I suggest you start with the powdered curry, which will give you a sweeter dish (which I would prefer with mussels) and then give the paste a try. I would suggest a red curry paste for this dish. So with Garrett’s recipe, you actually get two for the price of one! (If you try yellow, green, panang curries, you can multiply it further.) All of them will be wonderful.

  • Yin

    Made this for dinner and it tasted great! Never had mussels before, it was a wonderful first try. The curry was a bit too mild for my Malaysian taste buds (extra spicy curries are a staple here!), so I’m upping the thai chili count to 3 instead of 1 next time. Thanks a bunch, Garrett and Elise!

  • R.

    Hi, I was wondering about what curry powder you used? Yellow one?

    And by, “reduce half” you mean one should bring it to a boil, and allow to boil until it has reduced by half?

    Thanks!

    Just use the yellow curry powder you see in the spice section of the store. Reduce by half means just that, yes. ~Garrett

  • Brandi H.

    Made them last night, they rocked! No luck finding the lime leaves though and I live in a pretty diverse college town with several international food stores. May need to do mail order next time! But regardless they were wonderful!

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