Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Hope you’re fresh on your musculoskeletal anatomy because today we’re serving mussels! Inspired by a pre-med school job serving tables at a Thai restaurant, these lemongrass mussels are a fancy and delicious appetizer to serve at dinner parties. This is very much an Asian inspired dish using common Asian ingredients like lemongrass, coconut milk, fish sauce, and basil. If we haven't sold you yet, this recipe also gives you an excuse to pick up a bottle of your favorite white wine. So search for Asian markets in your area and if you’re a 'mussel' lover, cancel your gym membership because these are the only ones you'll want for a while.
· 2 lbs fresh mussels (We bought black mussels from Whole Foods)
· 2 stalks of lemongrass (found at most Asian markets or specialty produce stores)
· 2 tbs canola or vegetable oil
· 1 red jalapeno chopped
· 1 shallot finely chopped
· About 1 inch of finely chopped or grated ginger
· 4 cloves of garlic minced
· ¾ cup dry white wine (An un-oaked chardonnay or pinot grigio work great)
· ½ cup vegetable broth
· 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
· 2 ½ tbs brown sugar
· Juice from 1½ - 2 limes
· 3 tbs fish sauce
· 3 tbs unsalted butter (optional)
· 1 tbs cornstarch (optional)
· Handful of basil sliced reserving a few leaves for garnish
· Bread of your choice for serving
1. Our mussels were purchased scrubbed, debearded (yeah apparently, they grow beards) and ready to be cooked. We recommend letting them sit in water for 15-20 minutes before steaming. This allows them to siphon in water and expel any sand that may still be trapped inside. Before cooking, carefully inspect mussels and throw away any already open or broken.
2. Lemongrass is a fibrous stalk. Before chopping, remove the first 1-2 outside layers and cut off about an inch from the white end at the root. When chopping, you really only want to use the pale white-ish part and not the green.
3. One red jalapeño added enough spice to be about medium spice to us. If you don’t like spicy reduce the amount of jalapeño or omit completely. If you like spicier, add more or use a spicier variety of pepper.
1. Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and half of the melted optional butter and set mixture aside.
2. Heat oil and half of the optional butter on medium heat in a large heavy bottom pot.
3. Add the jalapeño, shallots, ginger, and lemongrass and cook just until they begin to become aromatic and start to turn translucent.
4. Add garlic and continue cooking until garlic is translucent and begins to brown.
5. Pour in vegetable broth and wine – raise heat and bring to a boil.
6. Carefully add in mussels, cover, and steam for about 3 minutes carefully shaking pot periodically to redistribute mussels. Mussels should begin to open at this point.
7. Uncover and pour in coconut milk mixture over mussels and sprinkle in chopped basil.
8. Cover and continue to steam for approx. 4 more minutes again gently shaking periodically.
9. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon, place in a bowl, and set aside.
10. All or most of the mussels should be open by this point. Inspect and throw away any that are still closed. These are not safe to eat.
11. This is where you can taste your broth and adjust ingredients according to your taste. If your broth needs to be saltier- add more fish sauce, sweeter? – more sugar, limier? – more lime.
**Optionally, you can thicken broth if you like by the following **
12. Whisk 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small amount of cold water until smooth and dissolved.
13. Add mixture to broth and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes until desired thickness.
14. When complete, separate mussels into serving bowls and ladle hot broth on top.
15. Garnish with chopped and whole leaves of basil and serve with toasted bread for dipping.
This dish was amazing. It’s a luxurious yet reasonably simple appetizer that is guaranteed to impress guests. Slurping the mussels off the half shell after being dipped in the hot and flavorful broth is the best way to enjoy. Also, huge bonus if served alongside toasted bread for dipping at the bottom of the bowl. With that being said, this dish must be served and eaten immediately, as the broth is just not as impressive once it’s cooled. The cooking process is straight forward but there can be a bit of uncertainty if you’ve never cooked with some of the ingredients before. For this, we give a…