Thai-style red curries typically begin with a paste of pounded chilies, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, makrut (also known as kaffir) lime leaves or zest and fermented shrimp. A big dab of the curry paste is sizzled in oil before adding other ingredients or aromatics. Fresh coconut milk is used often to complete the sauce.
It’s possible to make your own curry paste, with a mortar and pestle or a blender. But having a jar of commercially made curry paste in the refrigerator means you will be more likely to prepare a dish like this on the spur of the moment. Find some in Asian groceries, many supermarkets and online.
When thinking about an easy, satisfying menu, mussels often come to mind. It takes hardly any time to cook a big potful, and to steam them in the traditional French manner, garlic, parsley and white wine are all you need. In Belgium and France, an accompaniment of moules-frites is popular.
The other day, when I picked up mussels for dinner, a Thai-inspired version of that pairing seemed just right. The frites would be sweet potatoes, cut like steak fries and roasted crisp in the oven, and the mussels would be cooked in red curry sauce.
Make the curry as incendiary or mild as you wish, adjusting the hot pepper.
RED CURRY MUSSELS AND ROASTED SWEET POTATOES
By David Tanis, New York Times
- >> Sweet potatoes:
- 6 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne, or less to taste
- >> Curry:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 4 bird’s-eye chilies, split to the stem, seeds left in
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely chopped (3 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass
- 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 3 or 4 makrut lime leaves
- 3 cups thick coconut milk (about 1-1/2 cans, well-shaken before opening)
- 3 pounds mussels, cleaned
- 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, for garnish
- 1 Fresno chili, sliced, for garnish
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves, or another kind of basil, for garnish
- Lime wedges, for serving
>> Prepare sweet potatoes: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut them lengthwise into slender wedges. Place in large bowl and toss with oil to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and spread out in single layer. Bake, uncovered for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 400 degrees. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until tender with a crisp exterior. Before serving, sprinkle with cumin and cayenne. While potatoes are baking…
>> Make the curry: Over medium-high heat, put oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Add onions and cook until lightly browned and softened, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add chilies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass and let sizzle about 1 minute. Then add red curry paste and tomato paste and fry with the onion mixture for 2 minutes more.
Add fish sauce, lime leaves and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then add mussels and stir to coat with sauce. Cover and cook mussels, stirring once or twice, until all the mussels have steamed open, 8 to 10 minutes.
Ladle mussels and lots of sauce into deep, wide bowls. Sprinkle with cilantro and chili slices and top with basil leaves. Serve with sweet potatoes and lime wedges. Serves 4 to 6.
Nutritional information unavailable.