Curried Mussels with Lemongrass *Award-Winning*

The lemongrass we planted in our garden grew very well. It is almost as tall as Amy! As it starts to get cooler out, we are trying hard to use up all the herbs and vegetables that are still growing abundantly in our front yard. So, we wondered...what would lemongrass be fabulous in? Then we spotted a 2-pound bag of Prince Edward Island mussels at our market for $4.99, and we had our answer.

When you are cooking with lemongrass, you are really only using the bottom part of the stalk. First you chop off the long grassy part and then peel away the outer layers of the bottom stalk, kind of like you do with fresh corn. Underneath should be a pale yellow fleshy stalk that is soft and fragrant. Cut off and discard the bulbous end, then slice thinly about 2/3 of the way up. The green and woody upper part can be used for infusing flavor into a broth, but is not very edible, so should be removed before serving.

This dish uses some random ingredients besides the lemongrass, that is true. But these are things we buy when we see them, often at Asian markets, and tend to keep around our pantry when we are looking to make something unusual or slightly exotic. For New Englanders anyway.

So this dish includes red curry paste and fish sauce which we can find in our normal grocery store, as well as dried galangal, which we bought in Boston's Chinatown, but can be replaced with some grated fresh ginger. Even lemongrass is hard to get around here (although if you need some, we have plenty!!!). If you can't find it, substituting some grated lemon zest would do the trick.

While the broth, with all these exciting ingredients, was smooth, sweet, spicy and citrusy, it turned out slightly thin and didn't seep into the mussel shells as well as we wanted it to. We just ate all the mussels then sopped that tasty broth up with some fresh crusty bread. To solve that problem in the future, we might leave the hot water out of the recipe. 

Curried Mussels with Lemongrass

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 cup hot water
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
2 pieces dried galangal
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon liquid sugar (simple syrup)
1 can light coconut milk
2 pounds fresh PEI mussels

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the curry paste and stir to fry for about a minute. Stir in the water, then add the lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, sugar and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the mussels, stir to coat, and put a lid on the pot. Cook, covered, over low heat until the mussels open, about five minutes. Serve with crusty bread.


Anonymous said...

I bet this sauce tastes delicious on those mussels!

jck said...

Looks delicious.

Cecilia said...

haha, I know what you mean about buying it when you see it kind of way of building up the spice cabinet... :)
I didn't know you could grow lemongrass in CT. This is very exciting news!