Mussels should only be cooked live.
Select only those with their shells tightly shut. Before cooking, soak the
mussels in water for about 1 hour to extract sand particles. Then remove
the beards - the brown tuft between the shells - with a firm tug or a
sharp knife. As a rule of thumb, never eat mussels that do not open after
Fresh mussels, with shells
Thick coconut milk
Fish sauce, nuoc cham
Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, for garnishing
Dried red chili, cut in lengths, soaked to soften
Chili padi (bird's-eye chili) or red chili
Fresh galangal root
Kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
Scrub the mussels and put in a large
Add enough water to cover the bottom of
the pan, then put the lid on and steam over medium heat just until the
mussels open. Once they open, remove the pan from the fire immediately
and when cool enough to handle, discard one shell of each mussel.
Place each mussel in its half-shell on a
grilling pan. If necessary, put in a layer of coarse salt to hold the
To prepare the spice paste, cut off the
thick bottom one-third of the lemon grass stalk and discard the rest.
Remove the dried outer layers of the stalk.
Grind the lemon grass and the other
ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, adding some
coconut milk if the mixture gets too dry.
Put the spice paste in a small saucepan
and add the coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce and salt. Simmer gently,
stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce has
Do not allow the coconut milk to boil as
it will separate. Set aside to cool.
Just before serving, spoon a bit of the
sauce evenly over each mussel and cook under a hot grill for 4-5