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Thai Mussels in Coconut Curry Sauce

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Mussels, like most shellfish, are nature’s fast food. They cook in minutes and can be served many ways with only a few ingredients. This recipe is for Thai Mussels in Coconut Curry Sauce.

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I grew up on the Canadian prairies where we ate meat and potatoes. Fish and shellfish were not served in our house. But in my late teens I became interested in food and wanted to try everything. I still remember the first time I ate mussels.

I was on vacation with a friend visiting her relatives in Paris who took us camping to the south of France. We drove down a long cobblestone drive and came to a large stone building with tables on both sides of the road. They were all set with white tablecloths and wine glasses and we sat only a few feet away from the sand and the Mediterranean Sea. The entire vacation was filled with amazing experiences and lots of new foods but that dish of mussels is something I will never forget.

An appetizer of Thai Coconut Mussels with red curry paste and cilantro
An appetizer of Thai Coconut Mussels -photo credit Jim Little

Buying and Storing Fresh Mussels

When I cook mussels I always wonder why I don’t do it more often. For amazingly delicious shellfish the most important part is having a reliable place to buy it. We have a Fish Shop nearby and I appreciate their knowledge and experience, they know how to handle fish and the quality speaks for itself. They don’t sell frozen mussels but I pass along the warning, NEVER buy frozen mussels. When you cook mussels they must always be fresh.

If you haven’t cooked mussels at home I encourage you to give it a try. The more you do it the more comfortable you will be handling them. When I buy mussels they put them in a plastic bag. Fishmongers know that the quality deteriorates with every hour shellfish is not refrigerated so they always include a little ice with your purchase.

Cooking Fresh Mussels

Older cookbooks and recipes instruct you to scrub and debeard your mussels. Most cooks don’t want to do that or worry that they won’t do it right. When I buy them that has already been done and I just need to rinse them.

I cook mussels in my wok because I think it’s easy but you can cook them in the largest pot of a typical set of pots. Simply boil the liquid, add the mussels and steam them for a few minutes. Almost every recipe includes white wine and garlic so you really can’t go wrong.

The Gluten Free Asian Pantry

I wrote a long blog post about a Gluten Free Asian Pantry and the many gluten free ingredients you can cook with. In this recipe I use canned coconut milk, red curry paste and fish sauce. I keep these ingredients in my pantry so that makes this a quick and easy dish.

Are you going to cook some mussels? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

A Travel Tale – Thailand

From time to time I write a travel post for my friend Sue over at Travel Tales of Life. This is the one I wrote about our trip to Thailand many years ago.

Thai Red Shrimp Curry

How To Start a Gourmet Dinner Club

If you love mussels try:

Spanish Seafood Paella

A paella pan filled with gluten free Paella with Seafood
Gluten Free Paella with Seafood -photo credit Jim Little

Italian Fish and Shellfish Soup

A bowl of Italian Fish and Shellfish Soup
Italian Fish and Shellfish Soup -photo credit Jim Little


2 lb fresh mussels
1 can (14 oz/400 ml) coconut milk
⅓ cup lime juice
⅓ cup white wine
1½-2 Tbsp red curry paste
1½ Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
FINISHING - 1½ cups chopped fresh cilantro


Carefully remove the mussels from the plastic bag into a large strainer. Rinse under cold running water. Mussels will open and close their shells when they are out of water. They should all be closed before cooking.
In a wok or large pot combine coconut milk, lime juice, wine, curry paste (2 Tbsp if you like it hot), garlic, fish sauce and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the curry paste has dissolved evenly into the sauce, 2-3 minutes.
Add all the mussels, cover and steam 5-8 minutes until the mussels are opened.
Remove mussels and place is serving dishes. Discard any mussels that don’t open.
Add cilantro to sauce, stir and pour over the mussels. Serve immediately.


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