Much like a Tom Kha soup, this dish is a great way to cook mussels in a wok and take them to your backyard table for a crowd to share. Great with pilsner style beer or crisp white wines, this is a great appetizer for a casual crowd to share right out of the wok, soaking the broth up with crusty bread. This dish makes an elegant appetizer course for a dramatic multi-course Thai style meal.
2 pounds mussels, cleaned and rinsed (rinse just before cooking)
3 shallots, sliced
2 inch piece galangal or fresh ginger root, diced Thai style
10 kaffir lime leaves
6 dried Thai chilies
1 14oz. can coconut milk (DO NOT SHAKE OR TURN UPSIDE DOWN! Substitute “lite” coconut milk, if desired)
2-5 Thai chilies, sliced very thin (gauge your own heat index)
2-4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 paste or roma (or dry farmed) tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 handful cilantro and Thai basil
DO NOT SHAKE the coconut milk. Keeping can upright, open it gently to expose the coconut fat on top. Heat a wok to medium hot and add 2 tablespoons of the coconut fat from the top of the can with a spoon.
Add the mussels and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the shallot, ginger, lime leaves and dried chilies and stir-fry for a few seconds then add the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and then add the fresh chili, and simmer 3 minutes.
Season with fish sauce, lime juice and garnish with the tomatoes, and freshly chopped cilantro and Thai basil.
YIELD: 12 four-ounce servings
NOTES: Serve with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.