Home cooks seem to be under the impression that mussels are too unapproachable, too fancy, or too difficult to cook at home. Maybe it’s their association with French or Belgian food, or their price point in restaurants. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Mussels are among the easiest, and fastest, foods in the world to cook. They’re sustainable and affordable, too. At multiple groceries in Columbus, Ohio (that’s the Midwest!) we can get 2 pounds of mussels for south of $12, pretty much year round. Not too shabby.
Eating out, you’ll usually find two main variations on mussels: White wine and garlic, or red curry. Both are excellent on their own. When we cook mussels at home, though, we don’t need to choose. We love the fiery flavor punch of a coconut Thai curry (just check out our tom yum soup recipe), but found it’s balanced nicely by the dryness of white wine.
This is a dish we’ve been making over and over again, in hot weather and cold, for ourselves to gorge on or for guests to feast. We love serving it with freshly baked bread (try it with challah, it’ll change your life), but the traditional French fries are tough to beat. The world is your oyster—so to speak.
Red Curry Mussels
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 1 knob ginger, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 2-3 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped
- One 13.5-oz. can coconut milk (we prefer Chaokoh)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly chopped
- For serving: French fries or fresh-baked bread
Heat a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, then pour in olive oil. Add the garlic, ginger, shallot and curry paste, plus some salt and pepper. Stir constantly until the paste is dark red and the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the coconut milk, wine, lime juice, Sambal oelek, fish sauce, sugar and mustard powder, stirring to incorporate. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if needed. Bring to a simmer.
Add mussels to pot, cover, and cook until shells open, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and discard any mussels that haven’t opened—those ones shouldn’t be eaten.
Divide the mussels among the bowls, pouring curry over top. Serve with fresh bread for dipping, French fries, or both.