Spicy Green Mussels [Photo/The New York Times]
Time: About 20 minutes
2 bunches cilantro, leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped, about 2 cups
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 or 2 serrano chiles, split lengthwise
1/2 cup grated unsweetened coconut, fresh, dried or frozen
1 teaspoon Vietnamese fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 4-inch stick fresh lemon grass, sliced
4 pounds mussels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
3 or 4 scallions, thinly sliced
1. To make a green curry paste, put cilantro, ginger, garlic, chiles, coconut, fish sauce, salt, sugar and lemon grass in a blender or food processor. Blend to a coarse paste, adding a little ice water if necessary.
2. Rinse the mussels under cold water and remove the beards. Discard any mussels with broken shells, as well as any that are not tightly closed.
3. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over a medium-high flame. Add the mussels and stir well to coat. Raise the heat to high, add the broth or water, and put on the lid. Cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add 1/2 cup of the green curry paste, stir well, and continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes, until all of the mussels have opened. Sprinkle with the scallions.
5. Bring the pot to the table and serve in wide soup bowls, ladling some of the broth over the mussels, along with a squeeze of lime juice. Pass the remaining green curry paste separately, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings.