Recipe Review: Coconut Curry Mussels

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Coconut Curry Mussels

Wanna try ’em: Go here for the recipe

My fiancé Chris is an amazing guy; he’s smart, funny, very sweet, and takes wonderful care of me. My only real complaint is that he’s a very picky eater. He won’t eat dishes including shellfish, sour cream, green onions, mayonnaise, hot peppers, mustard, or any sort of vinegar. Sometimes it makes weekly meal planning depressing, I mean a girl cannot live only on tacos and chicken and dumplings.

The mussels in an ice bath with the other ingredients

The mussels in an ice bath with the other ingredients

Chris was out of town this past weekend, which meant I had a whole 2 days to eat anything my little heart desired. I decided to cook a batch of steamed mussels. I love mussels. They’re not super expensive and are really fun to eat (it’s great to be allowed to use your hands and slurp!).  I used to make them regularly in college to reward myself after a project, big exam… or just for surviving a Tuesday. I always steamed them in a lovely tomato-basil broth, but this time I wanted to try something different. Instead of heading down the traditional route and cooking the mussels “a la Parisienne” (in white wine, garlic and herbs) I went Southeast Asian with a coconut curry broth.

Red Curry Paste

Red Curry Paste

This recipe from “How Sweet Eats” requires a few tablespoons of red curry paste. Red curry paste is a little miracle in a jar; I can’t believe I’ve never used it before! It has red peppers, lemongrass, and ginger… basically everything that makes Thai food delicious.  After I swirled a few spoonfuls into simmering coconut milk, the house smelled like my very own Shangri-La.

Mmmm broth of heaven

Mmmm broth of heaven

From start to finish the mussels and their broth take around 20 minutes. The little mollusks seem like they’d be a pain to prep, but they’re really not too bad. They just need to be checked for beards and scrubbed a bit before they can be tossed into the pan. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was having to repeatedly dunk my hands in ice water to retrieve the sleeping bivalves.  One taste of these delicious morsels made the discomfort totally worth it.

A pan full of cooked mussels....my tummy is rumbling!

A pan full of cooked mussels….my tummy is rumbling!

Make sure you have a large sauté pan or wok for steaming the mussels. I find it’s best if all the little shells are steamed in one layer. This helps to ensure that each mussel gets a spoonful of yummy broth. You’ll want to make sure you have a lid that fits snuggly over the pan, as you don’t want the steam to escape and the mussels to stay closed.  As my picture illustrates…the lid doesn’t have to match to make a good seal.

Why yes that's the lid to my dutch oven. Don't judge

Why yes that’s the lid to my dutch oven. Don’t judge

These coconut curry mussels are like potato chips; you can’t eat just one….bowl. They’re fragrant from the curry paste, sweet from the coconut milk and just all around addictive.  I ate 2 full bowls and wanted to try for a third, but then common sense (aka my tight fitting yoga pants) prevailed.  Make sure to have an extra bowl on the table for all the empty shells. You’ll also need some crusty French bread to soak up all the leftover broth, because it would be a crime to leave any remnants of that divine liquid.

Coconut curry mussels and french bread, a match made in heaven

Coconut curry mussels and french bread, a match made in heaven

 

This meal is great for a date with someone special or for a sunny Saturday afternoon alone with a good book and a glass of wine. Though I missed my fiancé over the weekend, these coconut curry mussels softened the blow.  Hmmm….maybe Chris should go out of town more often!

A Perfect Saturday afternoon

A Perfect Saturday afternoon

 

A bowl of the spoils

A bowl of the spoils

Recipe Review: Lime and Coconut Chicken

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Lime and Coconut Chicken

Recipe from Chaos in the Kitchen

Hey Mom, whatcha doin?

Hey Mom, whatcha doin?

I find it really challenging to consistently cook complete healthy meals on weeknights. With busy work schedules and everyday stressers it’s tempting to open up a bag of pre-cooked dumplings or call for take-out. But now, as I’m getting closer to my wedding date, I feel a renewed sense of dedication to cook a healthy weeknight meal. Chris is supportive of this, but, as I’ve stated before, he’s quite a picky eater. So not only should our weeknight meals be fast, simple, and healthy, but they also have to be “fiancée approved”.

All of the marinade ingredients

All of the marinade ingredients

One of my new favorites that has recieved Chris’s approval is lime and coconut chicken from the website Chaos in the Kitchen. It’s a great weeknight dish because it can be prepared in stages throughout the afternoon/evening. I can swing by the grocery store on my way home for chicken and whatever else I need, prep the meat and sauce in 20 minutes, let it marinate the 2 or 3 hours I’m teaching lessons, and then complete the whole dish in the time it takes me to boil some white rice. The flavors are also fantastic. It has sweetness from the coconut milk, a spicy nudge from the pepper and just the perfect tang from the limes.

The marinade before the chicken goes in

The marinade before the chicken goes in

All of the ingredients can be easily procured at any local grocery store. I use a generic curry powder and my very own homegrown cayenne peppers in the marinade. (Side note: Can I just take a second to say how awesome it is to grow your own ingredients? It makes you feel like you can accomplish anything!) The recipe doesn’t specify the kind of oil used for the marinade. I’ve made this successfully with both olive and vegetable oil, so I think it’s up to your preference and/or what’s on hand. I tweak the recipe by juicing the zested lime and tossing it into the marinade bag to add more citrus flavor, it’s a small thing but it really makes a difference.  I also don’t use cilantro….Chris is not a fan.

After 2-3 hours the little lime peak through the marinade, letting you know its done :-) (just kidding!)

After 2-3 hours the little lime peak through the marinade, letting you know its done 🙂 (just kidding!)

The smell of the marinade is one of the highlights of the meal. The curry, coconut, and lime are so deliciously fragrant; it gives me the urge to relax on a beach somewhere with one of those tropical umbrella drinks. I serve the chicken with white rice and a spoonful of reduced marinade on top of everything. The meal is gone within minutes of being put upon our dining room table. The leftovers are fabulous too; I make little rice bowls for lunch and pour any remaining sauce on top of dish before reheating.

The chicken cooking off in the skillet. Smells so good!

The chicken cooking off in the skillet. Smells so good!

In conclusion, this Lime and Coconut chicken is exotic, scrumptious, easy enough to do on a weeknight, and picky eater approved.