Coconut Curry Mussels Recipe

Whether you are looking for something to make for a special occasion or just for a family dinner, these coconut curry mussels are a great option. The flavor of mussels isn't for everyone, but when you love them, you love them. Most people think they need to go to a fancy restaurant to order mussels, but that simply is not the case. Recipe developer Michelle McGlinn came up with this tasty coconut curry mussels recipe that can be made in the comfort of your own kitchen. "I love, love, love mussels! I love the brothy sauce left behind that you can dip bread or fries in," she raves. "It always makes for such a light, shareable meal that's still filling and delicious."

The recipe also has a fun little back story. "I studied in Paris while in college and lived down the street from a gorgeous cafe that specialized in moules et frites, or mussels and fries," McGlinn explains. "They had a few different flavors — among them, a curry similar to this. They served theirs in a huge glass bowl so you could see every mussel and all the broth! It was a beautiful and delicious dish and a different take on mussels." Clearly, McGlinn's authentic Parisian experience made an impact, and her delightful mussels recipe is proof of it!

Gather the ingredients for coconut curry mussels

Start by making a list of ingredients and heading to the grocery store. You will need fresh mussels, canola oil, yellow onion, garlic, curry powder, ground ginger or fresh, chiles de Arbol, tomato paste, coconut milk, water, line, and cilantro.

Clean the mussels

Take out the mussels and a firm scrubber brush. Clean off the mussels thoroughly and then rinse with cold water to remove any dirt, sand, or debris. "Most stores will likely have pretty clean mussels for you, but you'll just want to ensure the shells are cleaned well since they will be cooking in the broth," McGlinn explains, also noting to keep the mussels cold and avoid hot water. "Mussels are sold alive and spoil quickly if they perish – or open up- while transporting or storing. I found hot water can cause the mussels to open up, so I use cold water to clean them just to be safest."

One more tip? "If a mussel opens while cleaning, tap it gently on the side of the sink. The mussel should close up." If any of your mussels stay open or have a funky smell, discard of them.

De-beard the mussels

To de-beard the mussels, simply pull the "beard" toward the hinge until it snaps away. "The beard is a hairy little ball of fibers on the outside of the shell that is connected to the muscle inside. You want to tear it from the muscle without risking any hurt to the mussel and risking the mussel opening and spoiling," McGlinn explains. "To do this, tug the beard toward the hinge of the shell until it tears away." Easy enough, right? 

Cook the onion and garlic and add spices

Be sure to select a deep skillet to cook with. Drizzle in the oil and set the heat to medium. Once warm, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, which should take about two to three minutes. Next, add curry powder, salt, and ginger, and stir into the garlic and onions to combine.

Add the chilies, tomato paste, and coconut oil

Now, add the chilies and tomato paste to the mixture and stir well to combine. Use the back of a spoon to help integrate the tomato paste into the aromatics. Continue cooking everything together until the tomato paste begins to caramelize and stick to the bottom of the pan, which should take two to three minutes. Just be careful not to burn the tomato paste. The last thing you need to add is your coconut milk, which will give the thick mixture a light orange hue. To thin the broth, add 1 cup of water and then bring the mixture to a simmer.

"The curry is mild but has a pleasant, warm kick to it from the dried peppers. It is meant to emphasize the taste of the coconut and the aromatics," McGlinn describes, also emphasizing the wonderful ginger flavor throughout. Also, if you want a milder curry, add fewer peppers — if you want it spicier, add less coconut milk!

Finish cooking and garnish

Add the clean mussels into the skillet and cover it with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and steam the mussels until the shells start to open. This should take about five minutes. Be sure to discard any mussels if their shells don't open. Then, simply add a little lime and chopped cilantro on top, and voila, you have your coconut curry mussels.

Serve the coconut curry mussels

Feel free to plate these as you wish. These are great on their own, but McGlinn provides a few excellent serving suggestions as well. "I find this is most filling for two people who share it with crusty bread. You could make this into a larger meal by serving with rice and naan bread," she shares. "It is also delicious with thick cut french fries, which you can also dip into the curry."

Leftovers are tricky. "Mussels do not make good leftovers, since they do not reheat or store well. However, you can do it — I have!" McGlinn advises to remove the mussels from their shells and store them with the sauce. When you're ready to reheat them, simply pop them in the microwave and enjoy!

Coconut Curry Mussels Recipe
5 from 70 ratings
You don't need to go to a fancy restaurant to order mussels — make them at home with this delicious coconut curry mussels recipe!
Prep Time
Cook Time
curry mussels in bowl
Total time: 20 minutes
  • 1 pound fresh mussels
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • ⅔ cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger, or 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 3 chiles de arbol
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (13 ½ ounces) can coconut milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 lime, for serving
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro, for serving
  1. Clean the mussels thoroughly by brushing with a firm scrubber brush. Rinse with cold water and clean off any dirt, sand, or debris. De-beard the mussels as necessary by lightly pulling the "beard" or clump of fibers towards the hinge until it snaps away.
  2. Once the mussels are cleaned, heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the curry powder, salt, and ginger and stir into the garlic and onions to combine.
  4. Add the chiles and tomato paste and stir well to combine. To better combine, use the back of the spoon to combine the tomato paste into the aromatics. Cook until tomato paste begins to caramelize and stick to the bottom (without burning), about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk until fully combined. Mixture will be thick and a light orange hue. To thin to the broth, add ½ cup of water. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add cleaned mussels and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and steam the mussels until the shells open, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.
  7. Serve the mussels and curry with a squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro.
Calories per Serving 855
Total Fat 68.4 g
Saturated Fat 38.9 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 63.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 35.9 g
Dietary Fiber 7.1 g
Total Sugars 8.7 g
Sodium 1,548.2 mg
Protein 34.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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