We’re working our way through The Clean Plates Cookbook — recipes using fresh, healthy, sustainable-but-not-out-of-reach ingredients. This Thai-style preparation of mussels is easy to pull off and is perfect for 2 (if you get what we mean).
Mussels are more or less inherently sustainable, definitely a protein to become familiar with. You can find galangal, bird’s eye and Thai chiles and Kaffir lime leaves at well-stocked Asian markets, but you can improvise with ginger, any chiles and a squeeze of lime juice in a pinch. Serve this dish with plenty of crusty bread for mopping up the intensely flavorful sauce.
- 1 lemon
- 2 large stalks lemongrass
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon galangal, finely chopped
- 1/2 green bird's eye or serrano chile, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 kaffir lime leaf
- fine sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil, such as grapeseed
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
- 2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
- 2 teaspoons Thai red chili, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds sustainably-sourced mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
- 2 cups thai basil leaves, thinly sliced
- cilantro sprigs, to garnish
- Zest half of a lemon. Juice the lemon to yield 1 tablespoon of juice. Set the zest and juice aside.
- Remove the outer leaves from the lemongrass until you get to the softer, fleshier, pale yellow part. Trim 2 inches/5 cm from the base of the stalk, then thinly slice the remaining stalk about two-thirds of the way from the base to the tip, or until the stalk becomes woody and is no longer pale. Set the sliced lemongrass aside and discard the rest.
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk, galangal and bird’s eye chile and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaf.
- Set aside for 30 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh strainer. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic, ginger, scallion and shallot to cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the red chile.
- Add the mussels and coconut milk mixture and sprinkle half of the basil, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook until the mussels have opened, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir the mussels and transfer to plates or a platter. Sprinkle the remaining basil, garnish with cilantro sprigs, and serve.
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