Get the Recipe
I've gone on record as saying that mussels are the easiest choose-your-own-adventure one-pot meal around, and I intend to prove it to you.
Classic moules marinières are all well and good, but what if we want something oh, a little more interesting? Depending on the ingredients you add—the base aromatics, the cooking liquid, the enriching agents, and the finishing aromatics—you can transport yourself to far-flung corners of the globe in record time.
This version draws on flavors from Central Thailand to create a dish whose basic process is pretty much identical to the French version, but whose end results are entirely different. All it takes is some curry paste, some coconut milk, and a few other odds and ends.
Since mussels cook so darn fast anyway, I like to take a little bit of extra time to either make my own curry paste from scratch (with a good mortar and pestle this takes about 10 minutes), or at the very least doctor-up some store-bought green curry paste with a few fresh herbs and spices. In this case, I used garlic, cilantro stems (I saved the leaves for garnish), lime zest, some dried Thai chilies, and some whole coriander seeds.
The rest of the recipe follows my standard mussels technique almost to a T.
I start by heating up some of the skimmed fat from the top of a can of coconut milk with a little bit of oil. Into this I add my basic aromatics: shallots and sliced garlic, along with a big spoonful of the curry paste. Once those aromatics have softened and released their flavor, I add my base liquid. Coconut milk forms the bulk of it, along with a few big dashes of fish sauce and a touch of sugar to balance out the heat from the curry paste.
As soon is it comes up to a boil, the mussels go in and the lid goes down. I cook the mussels just long enough to let them open (nobody likes an overcooked mussel, except perhaps my dog who seems to like overcooked anything).
Finally, a shower of fresh cilantro leaves and sliced fresh chilies along with a squeeze of lime juice finish it off. This is the kind of dish that just demands plenty of sticky rice for sopping up the briny, sweet, hot, aromatic juices, though a spoon (or just lifting the darned bowl straight up to your lips) will serve you nicely as well.