Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mussels in Lemongrass Coconut Broth

A good steaming bowl of mussels in flavorful broth served with some crusty Ciabatta bread is enough to make me happy any night. And this particular recipe may be the best version of such a dish I have had. It starts with a broth made from shrimp shells (just buy some large shrimp, peel them, and freeze the shrimp for later while reserving the shells for broth). After the broth has absorbed all the flavors, you saute the mussels briefly, pour in the broth and coconut milk, and toss with cilantro. The flavors are southeast Asian, but the preparation is mostly French. For a lighter variation, leave out the coconut milk.

Mussels in Lemongrass Coconut Broth
The Broth:
3 tablespoons olive oil
shells from 1 pound of shrimp
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups homemade chicken broth (or substitute 3 cups storebought chicken broth and 3 cups water)
1 small onion,  roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, in half inch slices
half a carrot, in half inch slices
1 lime (zest the lime, then cut it in half. You will use both parts, but to maximize flavor they should be separate)
5 Kaffir lime leaves (if you can find them)
stems from 1 bunch of cilantro
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
1 small nob of ginger, sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon peppercorns
2 small thai peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, toss in the shrimp shells. Saute for almost 5 minutes, or until the shells begin to brown. Pour in the white wine, and stir the bottom of the pan to release any browned bit. Continue to cook until the wine has almost entirely boiled off. Add the chicken broth or water, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Add additional water to cover the shells and vegetables. Return to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the broth, pressing the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Set aside

The Mussels:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Thai chili, thinly sliced, optional
5 green onions, white and light green part only, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press or finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped ginger
2 pounds very fresh mussels, rinsed in cold water
3 or 4 cups of the reserved broth
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sesame oil. When the oils are hot, add the garlic, ginger, green onions, and Thai chili. Stir for 1 minute. Add the mussels, and stir fry until the first mussels open. Pour in the broth and the coconut milk, and cover the pan. When all the mussels are open, toss with the cilantro and continue to cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Serve in bowls with crusty bread on the side to soak up the extra broth.

1 comment:

  1. I knew that I wanted to make mussels with lemongrass and coconut for thanksgiving, but could not come up with a recipe. I will use this, but will also use the large shrimp and some leeks instead of onions. Thanks!