This weekend I presented the final scheduled cooking classes of the season: Thai Cuisine. Following is an excerpt on the history of Thai cooking and a recipe for a simple “Coconut Mussel Soup with Curry” that we occasionally serve in the restaurant. The recipe is also available in my first cookbook on page 228 and there is a version with chicken if mussels are not your thing.
Coconut Mussel Soup with Curry serves 6-8
1 stalk lemon grass
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 pounds of fresh mussels, cleaned with beards picked
1 Tablespoon sambal oelek (hot chili paste)
1. Slice the lemon grass thinly and place in a small saucepan with the white wine. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes to infuse the lemon flavor into the wine. Strain the wine, discarding the lemon grass, and place in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add mussels and steam, covered, for about 8 minutes, or until the mussels open. Remove the mussels, cool and pick the meat from the shells, reserving a few whole for garnish. Strain the liquid and reserve.
2. In a large (4- or 5-quart) saucepan, cook the onion, garlic, and ginger in the canola oil over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened.
3. Add the reserved wine/mussel cooking liquid, orange and lime juice, curry powder, thyme, bay leaf, coconut milk, jalapeno pepper and sambal oelek. Simmer uncovered about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced slightly.
4. Add the mussels and diced tomatoes and cook, covered, over high heat for 3 minutes.
5. Season the soup with salt and add the chopped cilantro. Divide the soup between the bowls. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and whole mussels in their shells.