Spicy coconut milk mussels

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Spicy coconut milk musselsAs an alternative to the classic Belgian-style mussels, this recipe takes inspiration from the Thai flavors of ginger, lemongrass, and peppers.
You won’t use an entire can of coconut milk here, unless you decide to triple the recipe, but fret not. If you have leftover coconut milk, use it to flavor the rice that you serve with your mussels.

  • Yield: 2 Servings


  • 1½ pounds mussels
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into small dice
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced into half-moons
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • One 4- to 6-inch piece of lemongrass, white part only, smashed
  • One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced
  • 1 cup full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 lime, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
How to Make It
  1. Rinse the mussels in cold water, scrubbing the shells and pulling off any visible beards—the hairy strands protruding from the closed shells. The beards are edible, so removing them is a personal preference. If any mussels are open, tapgently; if they close they are alive and are safe to eat. If any open mussels do not close when gently tapped, discard them.
  2. Heat a medium Dutch oven or other large pot with a tightly fitting lid over high heat. Pour in the oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the bell pepper, jalapeño, shallot, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger. Cook until fragrant and tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.  
  3. Add the mussels gently to avoid cracking the shells. Pour in the coconut milk and fish sauce, if using, and immediately cover the pot. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, gently shaking the pot occasionally, and then peek at the mussels. When about 90 percent of the shells are open in a full yawn, remove from the heat. Discard the lemongrass and any shells that did not open. Plate the mussels, squeeze a lime half over each serving, and garnish with cilantro.  

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