Scented with lemongrass and ginger, this coconut-milk curry is inspired by our friend Karl Benson. He is owner of the lovely cookware shop, Cooks of Crocus Hill, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Karl, a first generation Swede, has an eerily instinctual connection to the Southeast Asian palate. He also has a houseful of kids, all first-rate eaters, and this recipe (not exactly Swedish meatballs) is based on one of the house favorites. Serve them in small bowls with a scoopful of white rice on the bottom to catch the drippings.
Serve and devour immediately.
Wine: Look for a young Riesling from Australia or New Zealand, as these are almost all essentially dry but still ripe and fruity, which works very well with the shellfish and the Asian spicing. Alternatively, try an unwooded Chardonnay from California or Australia, whose warmer areas can produce Chardonnays with tropical fruit notes which will flatter the richness and spice of this dish.
1 13-ounce can coconut milk
1 large shallot, minced (about 4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons, plus 1 tablespoon, peeled and minced ginger (from 1 3-inch piece)
1 4-inch piece of lemongrass, minced after removing tough outer layer
2 tablespoons fresh coriander stems and roots, minced
3 tablespoons Thai green curry paste, or more to taste
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (such as Three Crabs brand)
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 small fresh hot red chile, minced (optional)
2 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
2 pounds mussels, sorted (discard the open or cracked shells), rinsed and debearded
2 tightly packed tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tightly packed tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 tightly packed tablespoons fresh spearmint leaves, chopped
juice of 1 large lime
1 cup cooked rice, any variety, though sticky rice would be traditional
1. In a covered pot large enough to hold the mussels, combine the coconut milk, shallot, the 2 tablespoons of ginger, the lemongrass, coriander stems, curry paste, fish sauce, sugar, chile and lime leaves, if using. Bring to a simmer and cook until the lemongrass and shallots begin to get slightly tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add the mussels, cover and steam them until they open, 3 to 5 minutes depending on their size. Remove the mussels from the pot with a slotted spoon and place them in a large shallow bowl. Discard any unopened mussels at this point.
3. Stir the remaining ginger, basil, coriander, spearmint and lime juice into the coconut milk and simmer to heat through, about 30 seconds. If the sauce seems too thick, thin it with a little water to a broth-like consistency. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the sauce over the mussels.
4. Serve in individual small bowls with a little rice on the bottom of each bowl.
From The Splendid Table®'s How to Eat Weekends by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter, 2011), © copyright 2011 American Public Media.
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