Coconut milk makes a beautiful braising liquid for shellfish, to be sure, but this recipe—from Ben Mims’s Coconut cookbook—ups the coconut factor with bits of fresh coconut floating in the broth. It’s one of those recipes that you can pull together quickly, but tastes like you spent hours over the stove.
Coconut & Lemongrass
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and finely chopped
1 small leek, finely chopped
One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup shaved fresh coconut
1 lemongrass stalk
2½ pounds mussels, debearded and scrubbed clean
4 basil leaves, roughly torn
1 baguette, for serving
In a 12-inch high-sided skillet or Dutch oven, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, fennel, leek and ginger, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the coconut milk and shaved coconut and bring to a boil over high heat.
While the milk is coming to a boil, place the lemongrass stalk on a cutting board and lightly bash it with the end of a wooden spoon or the side of your knife. Tie the stalk into a knot, then add the knot to the skillet. Add the mussels, cover the skillet and cook, occasionally shaking the skillet, until all the mussels have opened, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened.
Divide the mussels and broth among 4 bowls and top with basil leaves. Serve the mussels hot with a chunk of baguette for sopping up the broth.
See more coconut recipes here. (Photo: Lauren V. Allen)