Mussels in Coconut Curry Sauce


Mussels are an ideal quick and easy food and they tend to be quite economical. Once they have been scrubbed clean in cold water to remove all sand, they cook very rapidly, announcing that they are ready by opening their shells. Make sure they are firmly sealed before cooking; throw away any that do not close up when poked. Any that do not open during cooking should also be discarded.

Mussels are very much a seafood, redolent of salty tides. They are therefore prime candidates for a robust and distinctive sauce. It is an ideal dish to serve with plain steamed rice.

This simple dish can easily be increased for larger gatherings. I prefer to use smaller mussels, so if you have a choice, try them.


  • 1½ tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped spring onions
  • 1.5 kg (3 lb) fresh mussels, well scrubbed
  • 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder or paste
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 400 ml (15 fl oz) tinned coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons water


Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry for 20 seconds, then add the mussels and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the curry powder or paste, fish sauce, sugar, coconut milk and water, cover and continue to cook for 5 minutes or until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that do not open. Give the mixture a final stir and serve at once.