Introduction: Thai Spicy Mussels

I love seafood; I'll eat pretty much anything from the ocean, except maybe the 'Jobby' fish.

Typically mussels always seem to be cooked in a Mariniere sauce, which is lovely, but sometimes I want a change. A simple option is cooking them with a little red curry paste and some coconut milk or an Italian tomato based sauce.

For an interesting and finger licking alternative I often give this a whirl, it's still quick to make and the sauce can be prepared well in advance. It's quite light and healthy, packing a real spicy punch and those fresh flavours synonymous of Asian cuisine.

Step 1: Ingredients

This recipe should provide enough for 2 as a starter or 1 as a main (I can happily eat 1kg all by myself though)

• 500g Live Mussels
• 3 tbsp of groundnut or other flavourless oil for frying
• about 500ml of boiling water to steam the mussels

For the sauce

• 2 cloves Garlic
• tbsp of Fresh Ginger (I grate mine with the skin on because I'm lazy)
• 2 or 3 fresh red chillies, I went for 3 but use according to variety and palate
• 3 Spring Onions
• Some fresh coriander, some for garnish and about a chopped tbsp to go in the sauce
• 2 tsp brown or palm sugar
• 2 tsp of Chilli Paste/Hot Bean Sauce
• tbsp of Rice Wine
• tbsp Soy Sauce

Step 2: Prepare the Mussels

Before you cook the Mussels you want to do a few things:

1. Remove their beards, this is the hairy mess they use to hang on to the rocks/ropes with and it's not great eating
2. Remove and large barnacles or worms, these tend to contain grit which also isn't great eating
3. Discard any that are damaged or open and don't close when tapped/don't stay closed.
4. Rinses in cold water after cleaning to remove any loose grit.

Disposing of open dead mussels is crucial; these can make you ill if you eat a bad one. Eating any shellfish can make you ill, so ensure you get yours from a good source and you cook them properly.

Step 3: Prepare the Sauce

You can do this a few hours in advance if you want, leaving you free to quickly complete the dish if you're having company.
  1. Chop the Chilli, Garlic, Spring Onions and Coriander finely (leave some coriander for garnish)
  2. Grate the ginger or peel and finely chop
  3. Put it all in a bowl and add the remaining sauce ingredients, stir it all to combine

Step 4: Steam the Mussels

I prefer to cook the mussels separately to the sauce in this recipe, unlike a moules mariniere. This allows me to better control how well cooked the mussels are and not overcook them in the sauce.

To cook the mussels I use a bamboo steamer. Once up to temperature the mussels should take about 5 minutes. They're cooked when the majority of the mussels are open.

You may have one or two that do not open, these are dead and should be discarded. They may find their way into the final serving dish, so ensure everyone knows not to try and open them to eat!

Step 5: Fry the Sauce in a Wok

While the mussels are steaming put some oil in the wok and start to fry the sauce. This doesn't need to cook much, just to warm it up and release the aroma.

Once the mussels are cooked add them to the wok a handful at a time so you can quickly stir them round to cover in sauce. The mussels are already cooked so we only want to quickly coat with the sauce.

If you want more sauce, or to thin it a little, add some of the cooking liquor from the steamer. I prefer mine a little sticky and reduced.

I confess, I didn't have enough hands to add mussels, stir quickly and take a photo so there are no pictures of the mussels in the pan. I guess you'll just have to use your imagination until I update this :-)

Step 6: Serve and Eat!

Probably everyone's favourite part of a recipe, eating the finished result!

I serve these in a large bowl for two to share; it's great to get stuck in with your hands and scoop up the sauce from the bowl with the shells.

You can even save the shells afterwards and use them to craft something, like jewellery.