Sunny’s Cooking Project #1: Thai Green Curry Mussels

During the summer months, I get inspired to cook and entertain by organizing plenty of potluck and home wine parties. A week ago was my first potluck party of the summer with an Asian theme. I had a desire to make Korean Bossam, which is my current craze at the moment. But, at the last minute, I changed my mind after walking through the curry section of the 99 Ranch Market. Then it dawned on me, “I ought to make Thai Green Curry Mussels.” As I continued on with my grocery shopping, the very thought of making this dish consumed me. It seemed easy to make, not too complicated at all.  Well, I successfully created a recipe with my own little little twist. I got many raves about it at the potluck party. One friend commented that it’s better than the version that Chef Walter Manzke made several months ago when he was a guest chef at a local restaurant. Well, I don’t know whether my dish is better than his, but I’m tickled to hear the comparison. 
For a while now, I knew that the curry mussels are a popular dish to order at any Thai Restaurant like the Pad Thai Noodles, the Boat Noodles, and the Satay. Before I started on this cooking project, I decided to do a little research about Thai Green Curry Mussels on the internet just so I understood what brings this “marriage of goodness” together.   It’s a good thing to find lots of recipes on the internet; some from food bloggers and recipes from popular publications.  The basic staples in the recipe are the green curry paste, mussels, Galangal root (an herbal root similar to ginger), and coconut milk. Some gourmand-type recipes called for white wine, whereas the more traditional Thai recipes omitted the wine all together. Some added sugar, while others had no mention of it. 
My take on this recipe plays on the sour and the heat on your palate. For instance, the ready-made green curry paste is made with lots of sour limes and the punchy heat from the chilies. I also added my very own kick with the use of red pepper flakes that coats your tongue with a little more heat.  For the aromatics, I specifically used a Semillon wine (a white wine) although any really good dry white wine that you love to drink would work on this dish. I felt that the aromatics from Semillion wine would enhance the aromas of the Galangal root. I also felt that since the Semillon wine is slightly sweet, I don’t have to add sugar.

One last note…I’m new to recipe writing so please be patient with me. Here’s my recipe. Also, please allow for at least one hour total for preparing and cooking this dish.

Sunny’s Thai Green Curry Mussels

3 Quarts Water
¼ C. Tapioca Pearls (Small)                                                                         
1 stalk Lemongrass
Kosher Salt (Optional)
1 T. Vegetable Oil
18 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
1 Medium Onion (chopped)
4 Slices of fresh Galangal
3 T. Thai Green Curry Paste
2 Cans Coconut Milk
¼ C. Dry White Wine
100 Mussels (I used frozen cooked on a half shell, which made cooking this dish very easy.)
1 Pinch Red Pepper flakes
¼ C. Corriander/Cilantro (roughly chopped)

Preparing the Tapioca Pearls

Boil 1 quart of water in a medium size cooking pot. When the water comes to a rapid boil, add the tapioca pearls and stir with a large spoon so the pearls don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Boil for about 20 minutes or until the tapioca pearls are translucent. Remove pot from heat, drain hot water, and rinse the tapioca pearls under cold running water. Then carefully transfer the tapioca pearls to a bowl.

Lemongrass Broth

Wash and cut the stalk of lemongrass in thirds. Then, in a large size cooking pot, boil 2 quarts of water and add two-thirds of the lemongrass. Add kosher salt if you prefer. Allow it to boil over medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Thai Green Curry Sauce

Next, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium high and add the garlic, the onion, the remaining lemongrass, the galangal, and the Thai green curry paste. Stir fry until the onion is translucent. Then add the white wine and stir again.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add two cups of the lemongrass broth to the skillet while stirring and bring back to a boil. Then pour two cans of coconut milk into the skillet and the tapioca pearls.  Stir until the sauce is completely blended. Finish off the sauce by adding the pinch of red pepper flakes.  If the sauce appears too thick, add some Lemongrass broth or water to thin it out.

Preparing the Mussels Dish

In another pot, layer the mussels upright. Reserve about 1 ½ cups of the Lemongrass broth into a separate bowl and pour the remaining lemongrass broth onto the mussels. Bring to a boil until the mussels are reheated, which is about 10 to 15 minutes.
Carefully drain the liquid from the pot with the mussels. Be careful, because everything is super hot. Bring the pot back to the stove. Pour the last of the lemongrass broth and the curry sauce over the mussels. Cook for about 15 minutes over medium high heat.   When it’s done, garnish the mussels with chopped coriander/cilantro.
For the potluck, transporting the entire dish in the pot was easy. When it was time to eat, I basically had my friends serve themselves. If the potluck party was a little fancier, I would most likely transfer everything onto a large platter with drizzles of the sauce caressing on top of the mussels.