This dish has a mildly spicy coconut sauce that nicely coats and flavors the mussels with a hint of lime and cilantro. If you don’t enjoy cilantro, substitute fresh basil or thai basil and parsley. While I use an extra-large (13-inch) sauté pan for this to hold 3 pounds of mussels, it is perfectly fine to use two smaller sauté pans. Just make sure your pans have lids. 

Serves 4 to  6

  • 3 pounds of mussels, scrubbed well and beards pulled off
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced and rinsed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste*
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 13.5-ounce can regular coconut milk, well-stirred
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, cut in half (one half sliced into rounds)


1.  Toss out any mussels that are broken or that don’t close. 

2. Add the oil to a large skillet and sauté the leeks over medium-low heat until softened, 5 or 6 minutes. Turn the heat to low and mix in the curry paste, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until the ginger and garlic are softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the coconut milk, breaking up any clumps, and simmer on medium-low heat, covered, about 10 minutes. Add the soy sauce.

3. When you are ready to cook the mussels, divide the base into two skillets with lids and add ¼ cup of water to each. Bring to a boil and divide the mussels between the two skillets. Cover and simmer over medium-high heat until all the mussels open, 5 to 8 minutes, mixing occasionally. Squeeze a half of lime over the mussels (in both pans) and stir in half of the cilantro (in both pans). Stir gently to combine.

4. Divide the mussels and the broth into shallow bowls. Garnish with lime rounds and the remaining cilantro.

* There are several brands of Thai curry paste, which is a blend of chilis and Thai spices in red and green versions. They vary quite a bit and if you are going to make curries often, it is worth seeking out one you’ll love. I recommend the Maesri brand in a red can, available through online sources.