Steamed Fragrant Mussels

Mussels serve very well as a satisfying fish course, especially when, as in this recipe, they are steamed with basil and served with a stimulating Thai dipping sauce.


  • 1.4 kg (3 lb) fresh mussels, well scrubbed
  • large handful shredded fresh basil leaves

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 small fresh red or green Thai chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) water
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) lime juice


Place the mussels in a large, deep heatproof bowl and toss with the shredded basil leaves.

Next set up a steamer or put a rack into a wok or deep pan and fill it with 5 cm (2 in) of water. Bring the water to the boil over a high heat. Put the bowl with the mussels carefully onto the steamer or the rack. Turn the heat to low and cover the wok or pan tightly. Steam gently for 10 minutes until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that have difficulty opening.

While the mussels are steaming, combine all the sauce ingredients in a small pan. Bring the mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to cool thoroughly. Pour into a serving bowl.

Place the cooked mussels on a large, warm platter and serve with the dipping sauce.