I am such a fan of green lip mussels! They are the perfect light addition to any occasion, as an appetizer or as a meal itself. Whenever we have friends over, it is not uncommon for me to make a bowl of this simple seafood that when properly complimented can prove to be anything but! Visually, its beautiful, green-blue, iridescent shell is reminiscent of every island beach I know. Somehow sun and sea and sky always seem to infuse their colors into every island food and flavor.
Although mussels are not native to the island, the dominant flavors I use to spice it up are all local– limes, lime leaves, fresh coconut milk, recaito/cilantro, all shine in this simple dish with bold and complex flavors.
1 1/2 Cups coconut Milk (See how to make fresh Coconut Milk)
1/2 Teaspoon curry powder (I really like McCormick, but use your favorite)
3 Scallions chopped (include both the green and white portion)
3-4 Cloves of garlic
2 Lime leaves (if you don’t have the leaves, use the zest of one lime)
1 Small tomato
1/2 Teaspoon dried thyme
1 Small onion diced
2 Sweet Seasoning peppers diced finely (if you can’t find this pepper simply omit it)
1/2 Hot Seasoning Pepper seeded and diced finely (may also substitute 1/8 teaspoon of red chile peppers or omit if too spicy!!)
3 Tablespoons of chopped Recaito or Cilantro (or more or less to taste)
3 Tablespoons of Flat Leaf Parsley (or more or less to taste)
A splash of Thai Fish Sauce
2 pounds of frozen (New Zealand) Green Lip Mussels on the half shell
1/4 inch knob of finely grated ginger
Salt and Pepper to taste
Enough extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of your pan.
The night before you make this dish, thaw the frozen mussels in the refrigerator overnight by placing in a bowl and wrapping with plastic wrap. The brand I use is already cleaned and free from grit and the “beard” has been removed. I like the brand of New Zealand mussels I find here on the island because this brand is produced sustainably!
Coat the bottom of a large pan with olive oil and place on medium heat. Sprinkle the curry seasoning over the warm oil, and stir gently, being careful not to burn it. Then immediately add the diced onions, peppers, half of the recaito and parsley, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, lime leaves, ginger, and fish sauce.
For the lime leaves, I break them in half or bruise them a bit with the back of a wooden spoon in order to release some of its fragrant oils.
Saute on medium heat until the onions are translucent and soft and the tomatoes are also softened. The goal is to get the seasonings to fall into the background of this light sauce, so that they don’t compete with the firmness of the mussel when the meal is ultimately finished. Get them as soft as possible without burning or sticking to the pan, add a little more oil if necessary or even a bit of water to prevent burning or sticking.
Throw in the mussels and any liquid that may have accumulated in the bowl. Toss the mussels and seasonings together briefly and add the coconut milk and scallions. This will only take a few minutes as the mussels simply need to be warmed through thoroughly.
Be sure not to over-cook these mussels as they will toughen.
Add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and sprinkle the remaining cilantro and parsley to garnish.
Serve in a bowl with lots of the coconut infused sauce and some crusty bread, or as simply as an appetizer by itself.
Add a few friends, some great conversation, and Enjoy!