Yes, mussels are bivalve mollusks and yes, they are easy to cook. If you don’t have experience cooking mussels, you might feel intimidated, but you really shouldn’t. You only have to steam them in a fragrant coconut curry broth for a few minutes and they are far cheaper than most other seafood. They are a bargain when you consider that you don’t have to risk prying them open with an oyster shucking knife or cracking them open like a lobster tail. But even though they are inexpensive, they make a very tasty and special meal for Valentine’s Day when paired with a decadent dessert such as Chocolate Pot de Creme.
Dinner and Dessert
The best aphrodisiac is a well-cooked meal and it can’t hurt to pair this sumptuous main dish with a rich dessert for afterwords. In addition to offering a dessert course with this recipe, the post is a departure from the norm because it is also just a single serving for two people. This is not your weight loss meal plan for the week, this is the Valentine’s Day meal that will keep you from overdoing it.
Check Out My Mussels
When I was living in wine country in the charming town of Walla Walla, my first date with my wife was dinner and the symphony. We ate at the local bistro and had champagne cocktails with moules frites (mussels and fries)*. It was actually around Valentine’s Day when we had that first date many years ago. Since then, I have learned how to recreate most of the elements of that meal and offer it for this recipe. Crispy fries with a ramekin of mayonnaise or aioli would be wonderful with the mussels, but I recommend a simple, crusty loaf of bread for dipping into the hearty broth. However, if you decide moules frites is the way to go, it is easy enough to bake fries in the oven while you quickly prepare the mussels.
*It was actually oysters with mignonette sauce but I usually ordered the mussels.
In Praise of Moderately Priced Bubbles
Since this is a Valentine’s post, the other thing you need to know is how to make an easy sparkling wine cocktail. Soak a sugar cube in a few drops of aromatic bitters, drop it into a long-stemmed flute, and top it with the sparkling wine of your choice. It’s festive, fun, and remarkably simple so you can focus on more important matters.
- 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 can coconut milk (13.66 oz)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup Thai basil leaves, roughly torn
- cilantro, for garnish
- lime wedges, for garnish
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add curry paste, garlic, shallot, and ginger and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly (about 1 minute).
- Whisk in coconut milk, chicken broth, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime zest, and sugar. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium high and bring broth to a boil. Add mussels, cover, and cook until mussels have opened, about 3 minutes. Uncover, remove from heat, and discard any unopened mussels.
- Stir in lime juice and basil. Place mussels into two shallow bowls. Spoon curry sauce over mussels and garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
Serve with a loaf of crusty country bread.