I love mussels and always look for various ways to serve them.  I found this recipe by Sue Riedl in this morning’s Globe and Mail.  My comments are incorporated into this recipe and I’ve included some instructions on working with mussels.  Lemongrass can be found in most grocery stores in it’s natural form – I’ve also used lemongrass paste from a tube if you can’t find the real thing.  It’s a reasonable substitute, start with 1 tsp of the paste added in place of the lemongrass stalk, taste and add a little more at a time. Cook as per the directions below. 

A few rules when working with mussels – Remove/pull out the beard; rinse the mussels in cold water to remove all the dirt from the shells, take a scouring pad to it if you have to.  Discard any that won’t close when squeezed or are cracked.  I’ve never had to discard more than a handful in a typical 1kg bag of mussels.  Mussels will release liquid as they cook so don’t add any water, you will only dilute your base.  Buy mussels the day you want to serve them and please only make them just before eating.  Properly cooked mussels should be plump so don’t leave them on the stove for too long.  If after cooking, the mussel doesn’t open, throw it out, it’s bad.   They will continue to steam/cook with the residual heat of the pot so don’t leave them sitting around or you will end up with overcooked shrivelled mussels.  For a complete meal, cook some pasta or Basmati rice, and serve with the mussels and sauce.  If you have any mussels left over, remove them from the shell and reserve with the remaining sauce in the fridge.  This can be served as an appetizer or a main.


2 pounds mussels
2 tablespoons butter
Half an onion, diced
3-inch piece of lemon grass stem, peeled
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup white wine – only the kind you like to drink
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh back pepper
Fresh coriander, chopped
Lemon or Lime – squeezed on top just before serving, or on the side


In a large pot, melt butter and sauté onion. Add the lemon grass stem to the pot with curry powder. Stir to combine, cook until onion is softened and mixture is fragrant. Add coconut milk, white wine, salt and a healthy dose of fresh back pepper.  If you have any fresh Thai Chilies (and really who doesn’t), this would be a good time to add a couple, thinly sliced of course. 

Let simmer for a few minutes, then add the mussels. Put the lid on the pot and steam for 3-4 minutes or until the shells have opened.  Give the pot a swirl to get sauce into all the opened mussels – you could stir but a lot will fall out of the shell, not a bad thing but it looks so much nicer served in a shell.  Divide into bowls, sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon/lime.  Serve with rice, pasta or a baguette.