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Mussels are a great seafood option to consider -- they're cheap, keep fairly well (for seafood!), and are an eco-friendly choice. They can be farmed easily, so over-fishing isn't a problem. Most stores sell pre-cleaned and de-bearded mussels, so the most you have to do is pick out the bad ones and give them a quick rinse. In fact, some stores even pick out the mussels with broken shells for you. So, don't be scared by them! Chances are, if you like shrimp or clams, you'll like mussels.
I found this recipe for steamed mussels over at Steamy Kitchen, and they are pretty amazing. The whole dish takes about twenty minutes to throw together, the mussels and noodles are delish, and when you're all done, you can sop up the juices with some crusty bread. If you don't like vermicelli noodles, just leave them out. Or add some shrimp and Thai bird pepper chiles.
I made two very small adjustments to the recipe; ginger and lime zest were substituted for lemongrass, and lime juice was added (because tangy is good). If you can't find lemongrass in your area, lime juice and zest would be a perfect substitute ingredient.
Jaden's recipe follows:
Steamed Mussels with Lemongrass Coconut Curry
Serves 6 as side dish or starter. Another great thing about this dish - less than $10 in ingredients!
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed & picked through (discard cracked shells and ones that don’t close when tapped)
1 stalk of lemongrass, white part grated with microplane grater (or substitute with 4 wide strips of lemon peel)
2 bottles of clam juice (or substitute with vegetable broth + wine)
1 can (14oz) of good coconut milk, shake the can vigorously to mix the fat with the liquid
1/2 cup of Thai curry paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or substitute with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt)
1 tsp sugar
3 small skeins of mung bean noodles, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes.
chopped scallions & chili for topping
1. Fry the curry paste: In a wok or large pot, turn heat to medium. When wok is hot but not smoking, add 2 tbl curry paste and the lemongrass (or lemon peel). Fry for 30 seconds to release its flavors. Add the clam juice, fish sauce, sugar and coconut milk. Simmer for 3 minutes. If you are using lemon peel, discard lemon peel. Taste the broth. If you want more heat, add more curry paste. In meantime, drain your mung bean noodles. The noodles should still be a little stiff.
2. Steam the mussels: Turn heat to high and add your mussels. Immediately cover with tight fitting lid. Steam on high for 4 minutes. Open lid, scootch the mussels to one side, add mung bean noodles and cook for another minute uncovered. Use a large spoon to redistribute the mussels from the top to the bottom of the broth, cook another 30 seconds and it’s done! Top with chopped chilies and scallions.
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