I consider a brimming, steaming pot of mussels to be the twenty-first century Lady and the Tramp. There's nothing more romantic than sharing a steaming pot of food and eating with your hands. We normally think of mussels as French, but this recipe is decidedly light, tangy, and exotic. The broth is simple but sophisticated; coconut milk, lime, chili, cilantro, ginger, and coconut milk add sweetness, tang, spice, and heat to the briny mussels. Served on a nest of rice noodles, this dish is so impressive, but so easy, quick, and cheap that it's kind of unbelievable. Bullseye.
Note: When you bring the mussels home from the store, throw out any that are open and don't close tightly when you tap them. Once cooked, discard any mussels that don't open.
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass, bottom 6 inches only
- A small bunch of fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime
- 1 jalapeno or Fresno chili, thinly sliced
- 2 pounds of mussels (buy them de-bearded and scrubbed: usually that’s how they come)
- Kosher salt
- 1 (10-ounce) package of precooked rice noodles, or a two large handfuls of dried rice noodles soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
Heat the coconut milk and water into a large stockpot over low heat. Meanwhile, slice the ginger into rounds. Halve the lemongrass, and beat it with the dull side of the knife to release its flavor. Tear the leaves from the cilantro stalks. Peel three strips of zest from the lime with a vegetable peeler.
Add the ginger, lemongrass, cilantro stalks (reserve the leaves for later), and lime zest to the coconut milk. Raise the heat to high, bring the coconut milk mixture to a boil, then lower the heat all the way down to the lowest setting. Cover the pot and steep the broth for 25 minutes.
Raise the heat to high and add the chilies and mussels. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the mussels open 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and stir in the roughly chopped cilantro leaves.
Divide the noodles between two serving bowls, then divide the mussels and broth over the noodles. Serve immediately with lime wedges