This recipe was inspired by our local Belgian beer place, which has several different versions of moules frites on the menu: an enamel pot of mussels comes with a cone filled with crispy French fries and a mayonnaise dipping sauce alongside.
My favorite is the Malaysian style, which is a riff on laksa, a coconut curry soup with Chinese-Malay elements. At home, mussels take literally minutes to prepare and need only a crispy baguette to sop up all the delicious juices.
2 tablespoons safflower oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
One 1/2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed clean and beards removed
12 cilantro sprigs 1 lime, cut into wedges
1. Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When it shimmers, add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
2. Add the mussels to the skillet, cover, and cook just until they open, 2 to 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a serving bowl. (Discard any unopened mussels.) Pour the sauce over the mussels, garnish with the cilantro and lime, and serve immediately. Put out a bowl for the shells.
NOTE: Cleaning Mussels and Other Bivalves Most of the work for a dish like this is getting the shellfish cleaned, devoid of any grit or seaweed. I scrub each shell under cold running water, then soak them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. (Invest in a small kitchen scrub brush and reserve it for this task.) Lift them out, scrub again, and soak in fresh water; repeat the process until they are clean. Mussels have a "beard" that needs to be pulled out from the edge of the shell. Rope mussels – i.e., farmed – are one of the few cultivated seafood products I like. They are uniform in size and come clean, requiring much less work than their wild cousins to be ready for the pot.
Excerpted from Mad Hungry Cravings by Lucinda Scala Quinn, published by Artisan Books on March 19, 2013. Photographs by Jonathan Lovekin.
Article originally posted on splendidtable.org.