We all need a default, go-to recipe when we don’t have much time, and these easy Thai Coconut Curry Mussels are a FOOLPROOF, one-pot, fan favorite.
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Easy Thai Coconut Curry Mussels
You may have seen this dish served at restaurants, where yelpers rave about their amazingness when they’re actually so easy to make at home.
The Main Seasonings
The 2 main seasonings in this dish are curry paste and coconut milk.
#1 Curry paste
Ideally you would make your own curry paste. Perhaps you do make your own curry paste, and then freeze it in ice cube trays, so they are ready to go.
But we’re not doing that. Pounding curry paste by hand in a mortar in pestle is an activity for another time (perhaps never).
You can easily buy Thai curry pastes, and they coincidentally come in the same colors as traffic lights. Green, yellow, and red.
For seafood, green and yellow work particularly well. Red curry paste, on the other hand, is spiked with chiles and usually cooked with red meat.
For most nights, a store bought brand of curry paste will do. Adding some fresh garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and lime juice will really help magnify the flavor.
#2 Coconut Milk
Ideally, you would use fresh coconut milk or frozen, which is found in some Asian markets. This recipe uses the easily findable can of coconut.
The difference is notable, but not a deal breaker, and it still tastes SO GOOD.
Which curry paste should you buy?
Consider these 2 store brands, both products of Thailand and no artifical ingredients.
- The expensive one by Thai Kitchen contains less salt and more stuff (chile, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, salt, shallot, spices, kaffir lime).
- The less expensive one by Mae Ploy has as much flavor but more salt that acts as a preservative (garlic, lemongrass, salt, shallot, galangal, dried red chile, coriander seed, kaffir lime peel, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, nutmeg).
Other than salt, both do not have preservatives or artificial additives, so they both make a great choice.
How to Clean Mussels?
Clean shaven is better. Rip off the hairy, beard, if there. It will cause the mussel to die.
If the mussel is open and won’t close when you tap it, it’s dead and time to discard.
Give them a wash and scrub, if you have it in you. Mussels are often farmed, and if so, they won’t contain as much grit that needs be purged out prior to cooking as with clams.
How to Store Mussels
You should consume mussels as close to purchase as possible. They will die, and you want to cook them alive. (Poor mussels.)
If you must store them, cover them loosely with a wet towel to keep them moist. Store on ice if possible, in the fridge.
Dinner Table Mussel Trivia
Did you ever notice that some mussel meat is colored white and some coral?
It actually relates to their sex. Males are plain white, and females come in various shades of salmon.
Though different in hue, they are equal in taste.
How to Cook Thai Coconut Curry Mussels
Step 1: Saute aromatics
Stir up the curry paste, ginger/lemongrass, and garlic in a medium hot pan. Give it a couple stirs till everyone is nice and cozy.
The fresh garlic, ginger, lemongrass really bring back to life the pre-made curry paste that has been sitting on the shelf for so long. Add them if you can.
Step 2: Add Coconut creamy goodness
Pour in the coconut milk, and let the non-dairy envy begin. So creamy, smooth, and with a little spice from the curry paste.
Add the fish sauce and brown sugar for notes of salt and sweet. Stir it all together until it comes to a simmer.
Step 3: Add mussels
Into the pot they go. All at once; they don’t mind.
Mussels have a natural timer. Once cooked, they open.
If they are dead, they don’t open. Discard.
Step 4: Serve hot
Garnish with lime wedges to squeeze on at the table for that sour note. Cilantro too if you want to make it look pretty.
Serve with bread or rice if you must. Or just eat and drink on their own and be keto-like.
Do serve with plenty of napkins, however, for:
1) sticky hands that pick up the shells, and
2) to catch the drool coming out of your guests’ mouths when they try these mouthwatering mussels bathed in your homemade sauce that took hardly any time at all.
The Really Shortcut Cooking Method
If you really can’t be bothered with all the extra ingredients, just do mussels, coconut milk, and curry. It just won’t have the pops of sweetness, savoriness, and sourness that most curries do, but it will still be seasoned and good.
Foolproof, Fan-Favorite Thai Coconut Curry Mussels
- 1 1/2 lb mussels washed and debearded
- 1 Tb coconut oil or other cooking oil
- 1 Tb yellow or green curry paste
- 1 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp ginger and/or fresh lemongrass bulb minced
- 1/2 can coconut milk or 1 cup
- 1 Tb fish sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- lime wedges
- cilantro leaves
- Heat pan to medium heat. Add coconut oil, garlic, and ginger/lemongrass. Stir for 30 seconds to bloom flavors.
- Add coconut milk, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer.
- Add mussels to the pot. Stir occasionally to make sure all mussels get access to the hot coconut milk. Serve once mussels have opened. This may take 5-7 minutes, depending on how large your pot is. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
- Garnish with fresh lime wedges and cilantro leaves.
Wine Pairing: Uruguayan Albarino
We’re going to make these mussels relax with an Urguayan Albarino. Read more about this Thai-South American wine pairing in this post.