Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total preparation time: 20 minutes
This is about as exotic as any recipe in this book. It calls for a few ingredients that you might have to search for: Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and curry paste. You can find all of them in Asian markets and in some supermarkets. But if you don’t live near a convenient Asian market, use two teaspoons freshly grated lemon or lime rind in place of the kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, and use one small minced chile in place of the curry paste. But don’t sweat it. This recipe is really about the delicious broth given off by the mussels when they’re steamed. Everything else is just commentary.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 plum tomatoes, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (use a Microplane)
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded, optional
1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, finely chopped, optional
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 cups unsweetened canned coconut milk
1/4 cup red or green curry paste
3 pounds (about 60) cultivated mussels, scrubbed
3 scallions (white and light green part), thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro or basil
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
Toasted country bread or hot, Simple Boiled Rice
In a large saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, shallots, ginger, lime leaves and lemongrass, if using, and the garlic and cook over medium-low heat, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and curry paste and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels, cover tightly, and steam them over medium heat, transferring them with tongs to a bowl as they open, about 6 minutes total. Discard any mussels that do not open.
Stir the scallions and cilantro into the coconut mixture; add lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Transfer the mussels to bowls and ladle the sauce over them.