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Okay, I am ready to fully profess my love for mussels. Patio weather is finally here, which means it’s time for seafood and wine in the sun. If I’m dining (al fresco, of course), I will definitely order any type of mussels on the menu. But if I’m cooking for friends, this kaffir-coconut recipe is one of my favorite staples since they’re great to feed a crowd, but really I don’t need an excuse to make this recipe because I can eat it all by myself!
There are a few things you need to keep in mind while sourcing mussels. Buy from a trusted seafood vendor and make sure they don’t smell fishy (briny is fine!). Mussels breathe, so you need to store them in the fridge in an open bag or container, though I try to use my bag of mussels no more than a day after I buy them. Run the mussels in cold water to get all the sand out and remember to pull the beards out to prevent your broth from being gritty (that’s the hair like substance peeking out of the sides of the shells).
My secret to a killer broth is packing it with tons of aromatics because they add depth without having to simmer for long periods. I use shallots, garlic, ginger and green chili sautéed lightly in olive oil before adding coconut milk, lemongrass and sliced kaffir lime leaves for a few minutes which brews wonderful citrusy, almost floral notes. Toss in the mussels and cook until they open and you’re golden! Add in a dash of lime, fresh herbs and you have a delicious weeknight meal ready in under 30 minutes. Tip: serve over your favorite pasta for a heartier option!
All that’s left is to pour a glass of your favorite wine and start to let the warmer days soak in!
Recipe and Headnote Rachel Gurjar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/ 3 cup minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1 lemongrass, stalk, tender inner white bulb only, smashed
- 1 (2 inch) knob ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 (13.6 ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 makrut lime leaves, chiffonade
- 1 Thai bird chili, sliced
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus more for garnish
- 1/ 2 cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
- Baguette, sliced
- Chives, chopped for garnish
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add lemongrass and ginger, and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Stir in coconut milk and salt, then bring to a simmer. Add makrut lime leaves, Thai bird chili and mussels, then cover and steam for 5 minutes or until all the mussels have opened up. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
Toss to coat mussels in coconut broth. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and chopped cilantro. Garnish with additional lime and cilantro as desired, then serve with toasted grilled bread.