Thai Coconut Mussels Recipe

Thai Coconut Mussels

Thai Coconut Mussels

Mussels are like the unsung heroes in the shellfish category! It might not be much to look at, but these black-shelled little critters punches way above its weight when it comes to taste. The intensity of shoreline flavours these things kick out is simply incredible and irresistible! The versatility of these delicious morsels can transform any simple menu to an indulgent menu.  

I know that cooking mussels can feel quite intimidating as there are so many do’s and don’ts while preparing any shellfish that we tend to eat them only at restaurants as a special treat. But mussels are so fast and easy to make that there is no reason they cannot be made on busy weekday evenings at home.

This recipe is close to my heart as it is flavoursome, delicious, packs a punch and simply irresistible. A big bowl of flavoured mussels with a nice crusty bread to mop up the broth will simply wrap you in a blanket of comfort and indulgence.

Not only are these magical shells delicious but they are highly nutritious. They are an excellent source of iron and Vitamin B12 and a good source of zinc. In addition, they are also high in protein, heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and low in calories.


Thai Curry Paste
2 tablespoons galangal/ginger
2 tablespoons chopped lemon grass
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
4 tablespoons roughly chopped red onion
3 roughly chopped green hot chillies
2 tablespoons fresh coriander
1 teaspoon kaffir lime leaves
2 tablespoons Thai basil

Other Ingredients
400 gm coconut milk
11/2 kg clean mussels
2 tablespoons Thai basil



Clean, scrub, and de-beard mussels. Discard any open mussels.

Take all the ingredients for curry paste and grind it into a smooth paste in a blender or using a pestle and mortar.


To make the curry, open the cans of coconut milk, carefully remove the thick cream, and spoon it into a large pan. Cook it slowly, stirring all the time, until it reduces to a thick paste and the oil starts to separate. You will see a layer of film start to form and oil separate from the cream.  (approximately 5-6 minutes)


Add the curry paste to the bubbling coconut cream and keep stirring. Keep the heat medium to high at this point. The curry paste needs to be cooked thoroughly or it will make your pot of curry bitter. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes.


Once you have cooked the curry paste, pour in the rest of the coconut milk. Let the sauce bubble and add the clean mussels, stir, cover tightly with a lid and steam for 2-3 minutes until all the mussels have opened.


Add the Thai basil leave after you turn off the heat. Basil is very sensitive to heat, so just the left overheat from the curry is enough to wilt the basil and enhances the flavour.

Spoon into a serving dish, pour over the pan juices, scatter over some chopped basil and serve with any crusty bread to soak up the broth.

Tips & Variations

  1. If you are using the coconut milk that is not separated, then you can add a teaspoon of either coconut oil or vegetable oil when you stir fry the curry paste.
  2. While grinding the curry paste you can add couple of tablespoons of coconut milk to make a smoother paste.
  3. Avoid mussels that are chipped, broken or have damaged shells. Fresh mussels tend to be tightly closed. Allow about 500-750gm per person for a main meal, and half that amount for a starter or for use in pastas or soups.
  4. Preparing the mussels is an important part of cooking mussels. Scrub mussels in cold water to remove barnacles or sand. Discard any mussels that float to the top. Give any open mussels a sharp tap with a knife and discard any that fail to close (they are dead). Remove the ‘beard’ – a fibrous clump of hairs that sprouts from the shell – by giving it a sharp tug towards the hinge end of the mussel. Place cleaned mussels in a fresh bowl of cold water until ready to use. Change this water two or three times to remove any salt or sand that the mussels may expel.
  5. Lemon grass- The softer, fleshier part of the lemongrass (which is what you want to use in your cooking) is located under the tough outer leaves. Peel away these layers with your fingers and discard them. Use a sharp knife to slice off the lower bulb and discard it. Cut the lemongrass starting from the lower end (where the bulb was) finely.
  6. Do not try to substitute lemon grass. You will only get authentic flavour if you use fresh lemon grass. If you are unable to buy fresh lemon grass then you can use dried lemon grass too. Just soak it in warm water to soften it before grinding.
  7. If you are unable to buy kaffir lime leaves then you can also use lime leaves or zest of half a lime.

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