Thai Style Mussels in a Spicy Coconut Sauce

This recipe was inspired by my love for salmon Penang from the Thai restaurants near us. If you haven’t had Penang before it’s basically a spicy citrusy coconut broth that is ladled over meat served with a huge helping of rice. After I revitalized some freezer salmon for dinner the other night with a few pantry staples, I realized how delicious this would be with other seafoods, in this case mussels. If you want to make a statement for your next date night in, try these Thai-style mussels in a spicy coconut sauce. 

Thai Mussels in a Spicy Coconut Sauce Thai Mussels in a Spicy Coconut Sauce Thai Mussels in a Spicy Coconut Sauce Thai Mussels in a Spicy Coconut SauceThai Mussels in a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Wide Rimmed Bowls || Rattan Serving Tray (old, similar) || Gold Flatware 

A Penang sauce can get really rich really fast so to counter the richness of this Thai sauce I opted for a few lighter ingredients (that way I could indulge in more garlic naan bread) by using light coconut milk and one full lime to keep the broth bright. 

Afterall, the best part of eating mussels is soaking up all the delicious sauce with bread, in this case, naan

The color comes from the sambal that I used for this recipe, although traditionally I use Thai Red Curry Paste, however with the state of things at the grocery store, I had to work with what I could find. 

Sambal isn’t particularly thick enough to emulsify properly with the sauce so I added a bit of tomato paste, and voila! The perfect broth revealed itself. 

After a few minutes of letting the broth simmer, I added my cleaned mussels in to steam for a few minutes and then promptly served in a wide-rimmed bowl with a fresh serving of cilantro, a squeeze of lime, some paprika, sesame seeds and a dollop of full-fat yogurt as a garnish. 

Honestly, the mussels were fun to eat but we happily sopped up the sauce with this easy homemade garlic naan as the main part of the meal that filled us up. 

Thai Style Mussels in a Spicy Coconut Sauce
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins

These Thai Style Mussels were inspired by Penang curries and is bursting with coconut, spicy and acidity from all the citrus juice.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: curry, mussels, penang, thai recipe
  • 1 lb mussels cleaned and debearded
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste ** see notes for substitution
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek ** see notes for substitution
  • 1 lime juiced
  • pinch salt if desired
  • paprika, sesame seeds, cilantro, greek yogurt, and lime wedges to garnish
  1. Clean and debeard your mussels and discard any that have opened significantly as they may be dead.

  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat, add your garlic clove and tomato paste and cook until the fragrance has "bloomed" meaning you can smell a bit of the garlic.

  3. Whisk in your light coconut milk and sambal oelek. The sauce should be about the color of reddish orange as in the photos. If not, add additional tomato paste. If you don't like super spicy dishes, reduce the sambal down to half.

  4. Reduce heat to medium low and bring to simmer. Let simmer for roughly 10 minutes so that the flavors have a chance to meld together. Whisk in your lime juice and continue to simmer.

  5. Add salt if desired.

  6. Bring the pot up to medium high heat and add your mussels. They should take about 4-6 minutes to cook. You will know they are cooked when the shells open up completely. If the shells do not open, discard those mussels as they are likely not fit for eating.

  7. Ladel into a wide-rimmed bowl and garnish as you desire. Serve with warm garlic naan.

Recipe Notes

** If you cannot find sambal oelek or don't want to buy it, you can replace with equal parts siracha. Traditionally the recipe would call for 1 TBSP of thai red curry paste in lieu of the tomato paste and the sambal. 

Author: Cynthia

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