This is a super quick dish to make, and an easy way to impress at dinner. Do not be lured in by vacuum pack mussels at the supermarket. While Sainsbury’s are MSC certified (good work sainos) they just aren’t the same as the fresh stuff. Also once you get over prepping the mussels which is easy enough but a little time consuming, there is something exciting about waiting to see those shells open and knowing you get to eat the treat inside.
People can be a little cautious of mussels, but we can assure you we’ve made these plenty of times and to date have never upset anyones tummies. We’re going to do a full post on choosing and preparing mussels but in the meantime here are the basics you need to know.
How to prepare and pick mussels
Allow about 500g per person for a main meal, and half that amount for a starter, or if they are to be added to pasta or soup. Mussels should be tightly closed and not shattered or chipped – you should use your mussels on the day of purchase.
To clean the mussels fill your sink or a deep bowl with cold water. Give the mussels a good scrub to remove any residue from the water. Place the mussels in the water wait 10 minutes and discard any that float to the top. If any of the mussels you pull out seem a little open give them a tap with a knife or knock them on the kitchen worktop and if they fail to close get rid of them. Remove the adorably named beards on the mussels. These are the strong hairy bits on the mussel. You can do this easily by using a knife and tugging them towards the hinge end of the mussel. When you’re all done, place the mussels into new clean water until you’re ready to use them. If you’re going to be a while you may want to change the water more than once to get rid of any sand or excess salt.
As you can see it’s pretty straight-forward and as mum would say ‘if in doubt chuck it out.’
We’ve gone astray from the classic mussels and frites, although we do have a recipe for that, this is a little more spicy and perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. Taking inspiration from thai curry we’ve brought together the smooth coconut with zesty lemongrass and kicking chilli. Whilst you could just have this with mussels, you can never have enough of a good thing – especially when that good thing is more seafood. Big prawns not only brighten up the dish but add a new texture. You can remove the shells from the prawns before cooking but we enjoy the tactile work of the mussels and prawns in the pot.
Spicy yet creamy with the coconut milk it feels like a real treat, with minimum effort.
Timings: 15 minutes
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 red chilli
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 stick of lemongrass
- One bunch of coriander
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
- 500g mussels
- 200g uncooked king prawns (shell on)
- Bread to serve
- Blend half the red chilli, stalks from the coriander, garlic cloves and the piece of ginger with the coconut milk.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan and heat on a medium heat for five minutes with the lemongrass stalk.
- After 5 minutes add the prawns and mussels, and turn the heat to medium high so it is at a steady boil.
- Cover the pot and leave for four minutes – the mussel shells should be open and the prawns should be pink.Remove the lemongrass and discard.
- Pour into your serving bowl and squeeze a lime over the mixture, along with the chopped coriander leaves and remaining chopped red chilli.
- Serve with some sliced bread to soak up the cooking broth.