Sunday, 17 February 2013

Building up Mussels

"What's that?" I hear you ask, "another mussel recipe? So soon?" Well, yes, another mussel recipe.  Another spicy mussel recipe, to boot.  But I'm going to let you into a little secret.  While I am a veritable human dustbin, Andy is a little more, shall we say, selective, in what he eats.  That's right - the girl who happily chowed down on centipede kebabs and tofu brains is married to someone who would fall on the more particular end of the spectrum than non-particular.  That's probably one of the many reasons he's so lovely and slim and I'm not, but that's a discussion for another time.  I adore him and love cooking for him, especially when he grows to enjoy something that had previously been written off.  

Now mussels weren't a "never" dish, but they'd be a "once a year dish".  The spicy mussels we ate on our road trip were a bit of a turning point - like me, Andy is a full-on spice addict, and realising then how well mussels took to our beloved chillis was an eye-opener.  And so it now conspires that we've eaten mussels three times in four weeks.  We use the huge NZ Green lip mussels now, but this would work just as well with the smaller European mussels.   

I don't seem to have a great survival rate on mussels though (good job they're so cheap) - anyone have any tips on keeping them alive?  I do as directed and keep them drained but not dry, out of the plastic bag.  I wonder is my fridge too cold?  There is a big block of ice growing daily like an aggressive cell in the corner, which could be the culprit.  

These Thai mussels were a great spicy wake-up call for the taste buds.  I might half the amount of coconut milk next time though; Moules Mariniere have no close competitors when it comes to dipping a hunk of bread in the leftover juices, and so too much of this for my liking went to waste.  A small price to pay, though, for enjoying a huge bowl of these bad boys with a newly adventurous eater.

Thai Style Mussels

1kg Greenlip mussels, cleaned 
3 spring onions, chopped
2 sticks of lemongrass, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green chillis, chopped
Handful coriander leaves and stalks
Sunflower oil
400ml tin coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 red chilli, finely sliced

Discard any mussels that don't close immediately when tapped.  

In a food processor, blitz the spring onions, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, green chillis and coriander roots.  With the motor running, add a splash of water to bring it all together.

In a large pan with a lid, heat the oil.  Add the paste from the food processor and fry for 3 minutes.  Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar.  Stir to combine, check for balance and add more of these flavourings as needed until the sauce tastes harmonious.  Bring to a boil, add the mussels, reduce the heat.

Put the lid on and cook for 4 minutes, until most of the mussels are open.

Discard any mussels that haven't opened after cooking.

Scatter the red chilli and coriander leaves on top as a garnish, and serve immediately.

Serves 2


  1. These sound divine, I must try them. Sadly not with the size mussels you have there but my local ones will do. :-) I wonder if you could add cooked rice to the leftover spicy fishy juices?

    1. That's such a brilliant idea, I'm ashamed I didn't think of it myself! Rice would be perfect. The mussels over here are HUGE but I don't think they're any more (or less!) tasty than the ones you get back home.