mussels coconut lemongrass broth

Vietnamese inspired mussels in a coconut milk lemongrass broth

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The coconut, lemongrass, ginger and lime broth is heavenly. I love mussels, it is one of the few things I couldn’t live without. Combining my love of Asian food and mussels I created this recipe and perfected it over the last 2 years. The broth is so good you could have it all on it’s own!

Vietnamese inspired mussels

Picking and cooking mussels

Make sure you use fresh mussels in their shells, not frozen ones. Frozen shellfish is never a good idea. Only cook mussels that are still alive, you can tell the dead ones from the alive ones if they close their shells when submerged in fresh water – this is their natural response to fresh water.

Store mussels in the fridge until ready for cooking. Before cooking, put them into a large bowl, remove the one with broken shells, submerge with cold water and let them sit for 20 min. Then clean the mussels by scrubbing them with a brush under cold water and remove their beards (threads which emerge from the mussel shells), by pulling on them until they come off. During cleaning, look out for overly heavy mussels, these may be dead and full of sand or mud. Also, pick out ones that did not close tight. Discard them. This is a pretty good way of ensuring your mussels are alive and fresh.

Cook your mussels in a hot pan for no longer than 5 min. Later, after cooking, discard and do not eat any of the mussels that have remained shut.

mussels in a vietnamese coconut lemongrass broth served

— Makes 2 portions for a main dish or 4 starters—

Ingredients for vietnamese inspired mussels in a coconut lemongrass broth

  • 1 kg (2.2 pounds) fresh mussels
  • 400 ml (14 oz) can of quality coconut milk
  • 2 shallots or half a small onion, finely minced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white parts only) sliced in half and crushed
  • Thumb sized piece of galangal (or ginger), cut in 4 and crushed
  • 6 lime leaves, bruised (use dried if you do not have fresh)
  • 1 small green chilli, halved, seeds removed if you do not like it hot
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 lime or lemon and the zest
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 7 springs of coriander/parsley, separate the stalks and the leaves and chop them up
  • 1 handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Salt/chicken bullion
  • Neutral oil like sunflower or rice bran oil
  • 100 ml (1.2 cup) white wine (optional)
  • Large pot with a lid

Instructions for Vietnamese mussels

Step 1: prepare the ingredients

Clean the mussels and prepare all the ingredients.

Step 2: prepare the broth

In a large pot on medium heat saute the shallots in 2 tbsp of oil for one min, add the lemongrass, galangal/ginger, lime leaves, chilli and garlic and continue cooking until the shallots are soft, about 3 min. At this stage you can add the wine if using and reduce by 3/4ths. Add the pepper, coriander/parsley stems, coconut milk, lemon/lime zest, fish sauce, and a good pinch of salt or 1/3 tsp chicken bullion. Bring it up to a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 5 min. This will impart the flavors of the spices into the broth.

Step 3: cook the mussels

Turn the heat up to high and bring the broth back up to a roaring boil and add the mussels to the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and let it come back to a boil, about 2 min. Add the coriander/parsley and mint leaves and cook the mussels for another 3 minutes, shaking the pot on the stove to move around the mussels inside.

Using a slotted spoon, remove all the mussels from the pot into a big serving bowl. Alternatively you can strain the mussels, reserving the broth, but don’t pour out all the broth as there will usually be a bit of gritt at the bottom of the pot. Throw the last 1/5 cup of broth on the bottom out with the grit.

Step 4: tweak the broth

Bring the broth back up to a boil and taste for saltiness. You can season it with salt or chicken bullion or if you like using fish sauce you can add another half a tbsp of fish sauce to season and add depth of flavor.

Step 4: Serve

Pour the broth over the mussels, squeeze the lime/lemon over the top and serve with a few leaves of coriander or mint to garnish.

How do you like to prepare your mussels? Leave a comment below and we’d love to feature your recipes.

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