daylight delights: mussels in an indian curry broth

The rhythm of the weekend, with its birth, its planned gaieties, and its announced end, followed the rhythm of life and was a substitute for it.

~F. Scott Fitzgerald

First things first: IT’S FRIDAY!

(Fist pump/chest thump/double-tap-high-five!)

Even though I *could not* be happier that we’ve finally made it to the day where you can momentarily forget your woes and frustrations in favor of thinking about all the downtime and funtime to be had in the next forty-eight hours, the quote above by F. Scott Fitzgerald really resonated with me after I stopped and fully digested it.

It does at times feel as though the weekend is a substitute for the rest of life, doesn’t it?  Sometimes it feels like every single thing we do is a bid to get us one step closer to the weekend.  We spend all week thinking about the weekend, planning it, wishing we were there….and then it arrives in a blur and goes out with the heavy thud that is Sunday night.  You set your clock, you thumb through your planner, you remember all of those to-do’s and haven’t-yets that you put out of your mind just two days prior, and you prepare yourself to trudge through those five….long…..hard…..days again.

But nevermind that now.  Here we are, on a Friday morning on the very last weekend that we will have this Spring.  The Summer solstice is just a few short days away, and we’ve got daylight for miles these next few nights – surely something that should be taken advantage of.

And the perfect way to spend these extra minutes of daylight this weekend?  On your porch, on your patio, or simply in your little city apartment (perhaps with the window crooked open) with a tall glass of cold white wine and a big steaming bowl of these mussels – mussels that take all of ten minutes to prepare (seriously!) and rival any that you could easily pay three times as much for in a restaurant.

A pound of mussels can be had for around four or five dollars – even out here in the bone dry wild West – and they taste best when prepared really simply, with fresh flavors and a very quick cook time.

These mussels start with a simple Indian style curry broth, where garlic and fresh ginger is lightly fried and then mixed up with silky coconut milk, fragrant curry powder, and a dash of salt. The broth simmers up and combines to become a silky golden sauce, and the mussels are then dumped in and steamed quickly – just four or five minutes – before they are ready to go.

A heavy smattering of rough-chopped cilantro adds a bit of brightness and green to the dish, and an herbal freshness that helps to cut through the heady sauce.

The mussels stay really tender, and are permeated with the spicy sweet flavor of the curry.  The sauce is truly liquid gold; it would be an injustice not to serve these mussels with slices of toasty good bread, and you could make a meal alone out of dredging it into the thick and unctuous broth.

On a warm night and with a cold glass of wine, these truly are heavenly.  It’s a nice departure from the more traditional (and popular) white wine, butter, and garlic preparations you normally find, and making them at home is incredibly inexpensive – you’ll be shocked to see the amount you can make for a fraction of what you pay at a restaurant.

It’s the weekend. Let’s make mussels to celebrate!

Mussels in an Indian Curry Broth
Serves 4 as a light appetizer & 2 as a meal (with bread & salad)

You can use either full-fat or light coconut milk to make this, but full-fat will give you a much richer, thicker sauce (though I generally use light coconut milk in curries, I like to splurge on mussels and use the full-fat kind).

Your mussels most likely will already be scrubbed and debearded, but if they are not prepared as such already there is a great quick snippet on how to do it yourself here.

Don’t be intimidated! Mussels are generally thought of as a ‘restaurant’ only item, but they are SO easy to make at home, and almost impossible to mess up. Just remember to throw away any mussels that are OPEN BEFORE you cook them (or have broken shells – no bueno), and any mussels that DON’T OPEN AFTER you cook them. You can become really sick from eating mussels that have been dead for some time, and both of these are sure indicators that the mussel is not alive and well.

One more note – when you buy mussels, be sure to punch a little hole in the bag they come in, and have your fishmonger set them inside a larger bag filled with ice. Keeping them really cold is imperative to keeping them fresh and happy, and since mussels are alive until you cook them, you need to give them a little air to breathe (hence the breathing hole in the bag).

1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 can coconut milk (either full or low fat)
one 2″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 heaping Tablespoon Indian curry powder (I used Madras Curry)
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (a good handful)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus additional to taste
olive oil

for serving: slices of toasted or crusty bread (I used a sliced sourdough boule that I lightly toasted – delicious!).

In a large, deep, heavy bottomed pot, add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot and heat it over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add in the minced/grated ginger and garlic, and stir until they are toasty, fragrant, and beginning to become translucent, about two minutes. Keep a close eye to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn or color – you just want to sweat the ginger and garlic until they release their flavors and are softened. After two minutes, stir in the curry powder and salt, and then whisk in the coconut milk.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. When the mixture is strongly simmering (almost boiling), toss in the mussels. Put a cover on the pot and let the mussels steam in the curry broth for 4-5 minutes. After 4 minutes, peek into the pot – if the mussels are all opened, they are done. If most are still closed, give them another minute or two to steam. After 6 minutes or so, all of the mussels should be opened – discard any that are not (they are bad).

Stir the roughly chopped cilantro into the mussels and broth, and taste and adjust for salt levels (I like to add a pinch or two of salt here). Serve the mussels immediately with toasted or crusty bread for sopping up all of the sauce.

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6 responses to “daylight delights: mussels in an indian curry broth

  1. Say mussels anything and you have my attention. Wonderful!

  2. Your photo’s look great, very artistic.

  3. Seriously cannot wait to give this one a go! You had us at mussels. And curry broth.

  4. I always lean towards a wine, garlic and tomato broth for mussels. This is a great twist on a New England shellfish classic. Thanks for the inspiration!

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