Mmmmm, mussel season is here. Although mussels will be getting even larger and plumper over the next couple of months, last night marked my celebration of the first really good mussels of the season. I’d been saving a recipe for Spicy Coconut Mussels with Lemon Grass, just waiting for the mussels to go with it, and a flying visit to Taylor Shellfish put them into my pot. The original recipe as written here is indeed very good, and you can make it just as is for a delicate rendition of Thai-style mussels. I’ve amped it up and adjusted the proportions and flavor balance a bit, because I love Thai flavors, and, in all modesty, I think you should try it my way first.
It’s delicious with an aromatic, dry Riesling. And for me, if I’m only eating mussels, 1 1/2 pounds per person is the right amount. If you’re having something else with the mussels one pound per person is normally considered to be a portion.
Abra’s Adapted Spicy Coconut Mussels
2 T coconut oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed and finely chopped
2 serrano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup coconut milk
3 pounds mussels, debearded and rinsed
zest of 1 lime
2 tsp lime juice
1 T fish sauce
3/4 cup whole cilantro leaves
Heat the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Sauté the shallot, garlic, lemon grass, and serrano pepper until soft, 3-4 minutes. Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Gently add mussels. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until all of the mussels are opened. Scoop the mussels into two shallow bowls, leaving liquid in the pan. Add lime juice, lime zest, fish sauce, and cilantro to the pan and stir until the cilantro is just wilted. Pour the hot sauce over the mussels and serve.
The original recipe has you serve this with toasted croissants, which seems bizarre to me. I suggest that if you do eat carbs, you serve this with jasmine rice. Me, when all the mussels have been eaten, I just drink the remaining sauce right from the bowl like the mussel-loving heathen that I am.