Mussels are one of the most underrated and underutilized foods. Because mussels are rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as delicious and incredibly easy and fast to cook, they are ideal for healthy, quick recipes. Plus, they’re sustainable, making them a good choice on another front. These days we have the luxury of buying mussels that have been cleaned and scrubbed, meaning they are pot-ready. Simply check the use-by date on the package, and watch for raw mussels that are already open—toss those out before cooking. This healthy recipe uses bright, traditional Thai flavors to contrast mussels’ meatiness. Other good partners for mussels are tomato-based broths; cook some onion and bacon in a pan, add some chopped fresh tomato or tomato puree from a can, and throw in some fresh basil and parsley at the end.
Fresh Mussels in Spicy Herb Broth
- 4 lbs. fresh mussels
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, crushed
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 red chili pepper, finely sliced
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Lime wedges
Drain the mussels from the brine and scrub to remove the beards if not already cleaned. Set aside.
In a large pot set over medium heat, add the garlic, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. Stir, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar, stock, cilantro, and red chili pepper and bring to a boil. Add the fish sauce to taste.
When the broth comes to a boil, add the mussels and increase the heat to high. Cover and cook for 2–3 minutes. The mussels should open up. If one or two remain closed, that is fine, but if several remain closed, shake the pan, cover, and cook another minute. Avoid overcooking the mussels, as they will become rubbery.
For a light lunch or dinner, serve the mussels in large bowls with the fresh herbs sprinkled over the top and lime wedges on the side. Add rice or homemade sweet potato fries if you need to up your carb intake post-workout.