Spicy Mussels in Coconut Milk

Though I have been living in a city where oysters, clams and mussels are regular fare, I have not tasted this mussel recipe until last week.  An old friend of my mother’s brought a big bowl of this dish last week, and we recreated it in our kitchen yesterday to big success.

The nutty, sweet taste of coconut milk contrasts nicely with the briny mussels, and there is that lingering heat at the back of your tongue from the ginger and the chilis. If cooked right, the mussels will be tender sacks of salty, creamy goodies that burst once you bite into them. Perfect with steamed jasmine rice.

Spicy Mussels with Coconut Milk

Serves 8 if eaten as a main dish

2 T of oil

2 T of  ginger, chopped (preferably julienned, but was too lazy and just did a rough chop in the pictures)

several Bird’s eye chili (to taste)

1.5 C of coconut milk

2 L of fresh mussels, cleaned and debearded (sorry for not being specific, our local wet market measures mussels out in old milk cans)

(no need for additional salt, the mussels will be salty enough)

  • Heat a huge wok in high heat, until smoking hot.
  • Saute ginger until brown.
  • Throw in enough chili to make you happy. For me, that’s around four but that would make the dish inedible for the rest of the people at the house.

  • Lower the heat and pour in the coconut milk. Let this boil until it starts to caramelize: the  milk thickens, turns darker in color and the sides of the concoction turns brown, as shown in the picture below. The coconut milk solids and the coconut oil will begin to separate.  Its hard to explain the actual point when its ready for the next step, but usually I can tell by smell – the odor turns sweet and smells like coconut-rice cakes.
  • Caramelization is important to add a nutty flavor to the sauce and  not a flat, coconut milky taste to the dish (which is fine, but not the flavor we are aiming for).

  • Increase the heat to high, toss the mussels in, and stir to coat.

  • Cover the pan and let the mussels steam in the sauce until they are slightly open. This will take less than five minutes and you have to watch it to prevent overcooking.
  • Serve with freshly cooked rice and cooling drinks.

4 thoughts on “Spicy Mussels in Coconut Milk

  1. It does look fantastic… loved the way you described, step-by-step… wish I had the patience… 😮 The photos are amazing, by the way… it feels like you’re gonna taste them!!! Great suggestion for cooking with the versatile coconut milk! Greetings from Recife, Brazil!


    • Hi thanks for visiting! I finally found a use for the fancy camera my husband insisted I buy 🙂 Thanks!
      I saw your blog and started following it. I admire you for globetrotting with three small children!


  2. Pingback: Kerala Food: An Extract « Wandering Mirages

  3. Pingback: Coconut Curry Mussels | Aggiegrl's Travel & Food Safari

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