Aha! Once more, the Chef’s Guild has nudged me to venture into new lands with a batch of mussels in tow. Like I said in my Red Curry Mussel Soup post, it took some time for me to take a step out of my rather mediterranean-colored comfort zone when it comes to mussels – and even though I still return to that style on a regular basis, I have no qualms about rolling up my sleeves and get to work when a new idea takes root in my head.
When I discovered this recipe…
…at my Cooking Station in Lion’s Arch, I wasn’t sure whether to dance around excitedly and take a quick walk to the next best fishmonger – or to cringe away and abandon the idea immediately. On one hand, lemongrass is one of my favorite ingredients – and one I had yet to use as an anchor to build a mussel dish around. On the other hand, when dining out, I had way too many broken bits and pieces of shells adding an unsavory crunch to an otherwise perfectly fine pile of pasta whenever the mussels, shells and all, had been tossed in with the noodles. But… the lemongrass-idea was way, way too tempting to just let it go, so I decided to tackle the issue and, hopefully, break my streak of bad-mussel-shell-luck. The first step is always the hardest one, right? After successfully jumpig through that first loop, I’ve refined the recipe a bit to fit my mussel-needs – and hopefully yours, too~!
The Thai-Style Lemongrass Mussel Pasta
For 4 starter-sized servings or 2 generous main dishes you’ll need …
300ml Light Coconut Milk – if you’re going with full-fat coconut milk instead, you might have to add some more power in the chilli-department
100ml Coconut Water or Vegetable Stock
1 Tsp Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Stalks of Lemongrass, white parts very finely sliced or grated, the greens bashed
3 Kaffir Lime Leaves – crumple them up a bit between your fingers without actually breaking them apart
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1 Lime, Zest and Juice
2 Cloves of Garlic, very finely chopped
2-3 Small Green Chillies, thinly sliced, plus extra to serve – remove the seeds if you want to mellow the lot down a bit
1kg Mussels, shells and all, carefully cleaned
300g Shirataki or Konjak Noodles
Alt: 300g Broad Rice Noodle Sticks
Juice of another lime to taste
½ Bunch of Coriander, leaves picked
Unless you’re wary about empty carbs and other shape-related issues one might have with noodles of any kind, you might not know about Shirataki noodles, so here’s a bit of foodology on the matter:
Shirataki noodles, most commonly known and used in Japanese and Chinese cuisine, are made from Konjac yams. They look – and are used like – a slightly thicker version of cooked rice vermicelli, translucent and slightly gelatinous. Basically being water held in shape by the roots’ fibers, they are gluten-, fat- and carbohydrate-free, adding up to the sweet nothing of 14 kcal per 100g. How’s that for a pasta-replacement? Actually… personally, I wouldn’t replace wheat-based pasta in mediterranean-style dishes with these, their consistency is too close to the rice-noodle side of things, but all asian dishes asking for rice-/bean-/udon- or egg noodles are the perfect context for these to save your carb-day.
They come in wet-stored or dried variants – dried, they look, again, exactly like rice noodles while the wet-stored ones are usually vaccum-sealed in small trays filled with some sort of liquid. The liquid, despite it never having been near anything sea-related, usually gives off a rather fishy smell. Don’t worry, the noodles themselves remain a flavor-free empty canvas, waiting to take on anything you intentionally add to them. Thoroughly rinse the noodles to remove the soaking liquid before using them. I first discovered these in the international section of an organic food market nearby and, having learned of their existence and seriously not appreciating the bone-chilling price on this wonderful solution to my calory-counting problem with noodles, went on a shopping-trip to a few Asian Food Stores in the area. There they were, in plain sight, in variable shapes and sizes, for a reasonable price. Why I never gave the inconspicuous little white tubs flashing “Low Carb, Low Fat, Eat me!” at me a second glance until that fateful day? Beats me. Anyways, moving on to the yum of the day.
1) Set a pot large enough to accommodate everything, including the mussels, onto medium heat.
2) Pop in the coconut oil, shallot cubes, chilli rings and the garlic. Allow them to soften up in the heat – without taking on color – for about 3-4 mins.
3) Deglaze the contents of your pot with the coconut milk, then add the coconut water, lime juice, fish- and soy sauce.
4) Send the lemongrass, lime leaves and lime zest swimming and, after a quick stir, leave the broth to simmer for 6-8 mins to allow the herbs to develop their flavors.
5) Meanwhile, take care of your noodles – if you’re going with Shirataki noodles, simply rinse them and shake off the excess water. If you’ve picked rice noodles, cook them to a slightly-undercooked stage and rinse them with ice cold water to stop the cooking process for the time being.
6) Once a quick taste-test of the broth satisfies your tastebuds, remove the lime leaves and the piece of lemongrass, turn the heat to high and add the noodles to finish them off while they soak up some of the sauce. 2-3 mins should suffice for the finishing touch.
7) Divide the noodles, leaving most of the sauce behind in the pot, into warmed bowls and set them aside.
8) Now add the mussels to the broth, cover the lot with a lid and, with an occasional shake of the pot, steam the mussels for 2-3 mins until the ones on top of the pile open up.
9) Once that’s done, you could go ahead and shell the mussels before adding them to your noodles – or you could just – carefully, as not to break the shells on the last stretch – top off your noodle heaps with the golden gems still inside their shells.
10) Spoon the remaining hot broth over the waiting mussel piles.
11) Drizzle the heaps with a few additional drops of lime juice, sprinkle them with the coriander leaves and serve immediately.
And that’s all for 2017~! I hope you guys will welcome the new year with a raging feast, lots of friends and family and all the good things a fabulous New Year’s Eve needs to make you happy~ A wonderful, happy, healthy and, of course, delicious New Year to all of you! I’ll do my best to help with the “delicious” bit, of course 😀 See you all next year~!