23/03/2012

Thai Green Mussels

It is said that you should try something new ...

I googled for a suitable quote, but after reading several hundred witticisms, I decided it was probably more a pretentious way of opening than clever.

Besides, "a witty saying proves nothing" - Voltaire.

While we're talking about quoting other people, this dish was lifted lock, stock and wholesale from my paleo pals over at Modern Paleo Warfare whose recent article, 'Smell My Fingers' detailed this very dish.

Googling, it seems a fairly straight down the line Thai dish and so knowing nothing about Thai food whatsoever, it's time to dive straight in and see what all the fuss is about ...

First, the mussels.

Mussels are a good source of metabolism and immune system stimulating selenium, vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid, iron, calcium and omega-3.

Archaeological evidence is finding this food to have been consumed by humans for more than 20,000 years, which is actually relatively new in paleo timescales, but still something we have eaten for a good, long time, and although much of what is sold is farmed mussels, they're still about as good as they are in the wild.

Buy some good mussels, as fresh as you can get so that there are few wasted. I adore mussels and eat them often. I have bought mussels where I have thrown away literally half due to them being unsuitable for eating, leaving a meagre dish, but tonight was quite the opposite - I found 3 ... out of (guessing) 60 which were unsuitable!


Tip out the mussels into a container and inspect each one - if they're cracked, discard them; open and do not close up after tapping, discard them. Pull the beards off - this is the hairy bit that sticks out.

Rinse the mussels well under clean water to ensure the shells are cleaned - the steaming sauce is as much a part of the dish as the mussels themselves. The keen eared among you will hear the mussels moving about; there will be a gentle creaking, crackling sound. These are the mussels you want to eat! The live ones.

Next, make up a paste.

Having never made Thai green paste, I looked it up and had most of the ingredients, perhaps with the exception of fish sauce, which I think is sour and pungent, so left it out - there were plenty of aromatic, sharp, pungent ingredients anyway.

I had some greens from spring onions, chillies, ginger, wild garlic, garlic cloves, lime, shallot, basil and coriander. Blending the lot together with a little coconut milk and a sprinkle of cumin and white pepper, I had my paste.

To work ...


In a lidded sauté pan melt some coconut oil, soften some shredded leek and pour in some coconut milk - I used the remainder of the can, so about 400ml. Bring to the boil.


Toss in the mussels and put the lid on.

After a few minutes, more than 3 or 4, much less than 10, the mussels will be cooked. They will be open. As soon as they've all had a chance to open, remove the lid, enjoying that heady steam and pour out into a bowl.

I had so many of these damn things that I had to make two sittings. Seriously, I must have had 60 mussels? It's not greedy, it's gorging when times are good and food is plentiful ... ready for the fast. Part of my thrust towards seasonal eating will mean that out of season, I will not be seeing such foods so enjoying even a surplus at the time is perfectly good!

Pause for breath ... slug down the sauce ... burp!


To be absolutely frank, I didn't enjoy them like this.

I did taste the green paste on its own and really enjoyed that. Coconut milk is not something I particularly go out of my way partake of, but wouldn't say I don't like it. Together, yes, they worked ... well, of course they do: Thai food is very popular and this simple combination of flavours is well renowned.

It's just not for me ...

Back to shallots, garlic, chervil, cream and Normandy cider next time.

Fun, nevertheless!

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