Dear Chef’s Guild of Tyria,
Thank you, thank you, thank you~! Thanks to your recommendation, I ventured into the unknown, one of my favorite seafood’y ingredients in tow, and ended up with an entirely new tastebud-dancing, finger-licking, delicious experience~!
I have to admit, I had never heard of mussels in a Thai-kind of context – or seen them on a Thai Restaurant’s menu, for that matter – until I encountered this dish at the Chef’s Station.
Mussels were, in my box, served in a mediterranean kind of way, tomatoey and herby, or french, with white wine or cream, both with a side of crusty bread to thoroughly clean the plate. I liked that particular box, so thinking outside of it never even occurred to me. Mussels, at least in our corner of the world, are at their best during the colder months of the year, despite – or because of… – the summery, mediterranean way of serving them, so connecting the dots on the culinary world map to tropical regions took a few braincell-crunches and -situps. So it took me a couple of comfort-zone batches of mussels before I gave my favorite red curry paste a go at one. What can I say… there I was, completely dumbfounded, staring at the pot of black gems nestled into a creamy, intensely aromatic broth, wondering how I could have missed out on that kind of thing for so long. Well, after refining the Chef’s Guild’s recipe and tweaking it to my taste, the permanent residents of my mental mussel-box, France and Italy, have been joined by flamboyant, spicy and travel-bug inducing Thailand. How’s that for a winter-repelling trio! Here’s what I turned Tyria’s Curry Mussel Soup into~
These amounts will net you 4 servings as a starter or 2 large heaps as mains – while it might seem a lot, keep the weight of the shells in mind
The Red Curry Mussel Soup
2kg fresh Mussels – give them a good scrub under cold, running water and, if they haven’t been cleaned already, remove the stringy beards
15 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
or: 4 ripe San Marzano Tomatoes, cubed
1 Leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced into thin half-moons
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp freshly grated Ginger
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Pinch of Salt
1 Pinch of Brown Sugar
400ml Skimmed Coconut Milk – if you’re going with full fat coconut milk, you’ll probably need to adjust the seasoning with more curry paste
Opt: 100ml Vegetable Stock – to adjust the amount of liquids to your liking or turn the sauce to a creamy soup
1-3 Tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste – start with 1 Tbsp if you don’t know the product in front of you, the pastes vary from a mild zing on your tastebuds to hell setting up shop in your mouth without much of an indicator on the packaging. Dissolve the paste into the warm coconut milk before going through the taste-and-adjust routine
½ Bunch of Coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1 Kaffir Lime Leaf
1 Tsp Fish Sauce
1 Lime, juice and zest
Opt: 1 Bird’s Eye Chilli, finely chopped
1) Rinse the mussels under cold, running water and move them into a colander for the time being.
2) Set a large pot – large enough for the mussels, onto medium heat and add the oil.
3) Once it’s warmed up, add the leek, lime leaf, ginger and garlic. Sprinkle them with a hint of salt and brown sugar and sautée them for about 3 mins. Make sure the veggies don’t take on color at this point.
4) Pour in the coconut milk and get the lot up to a gentle simmer before stirring in the curry paste.
5) As soon as the paste is completely dissolved into the coconut milk, a very thin layer of reddish oil will gather on the surface. That’s your cue to add the tomatoes.
6) Leave the contents of your pot to simmer away for about 5-8 mins until the leeks are tender.
7) Add the fish sauce and the lime zest, stir them into the sauce until they’re well incorporated, then have a taste. Keep the lime juice, to be added at a later point, in mind and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, with more fish sauce – replacing salt – brown sugar, or more curry paste. Add more fuel to your fire with the bird’s eye chilli~
8) Turn the heat up to high to bring the curry to a boil and remove the lime leaf.
9) Enter the mussels! Tip them into the pot and close the lid immediately.
10) Give the pot a hearty shake to help them settle down in the curry.
11) Leave them to their own devices for around 3-5 mins – to be precise: as long as it takes until for the ones on top to open up.
12) One last, curry-related consistency check~ The mussels should have given off enough of their juices to turn the creamy coconut milk into a perfect sauce – if they haven’t and the curry appears to be too thick for comfort, carefully stir in some of the stock until you’re satisfied.
14) Fold in the coriander, drizzle the lime juice onto the mussels and serve while they’re hot~!
Despite the Asian style of the dish, I’d suggest serving it with a nice, crusty bread anyways. Maybe it’s just me, but bread still seems to be the perfect way to enjoy the broth left behind once you’ve munched your way through the mussels.