Despite my vast experience, I had never heard of red curry mussels until I had a fabulous dish by that name at the Fog Harbor restaurant in San Francisco. Although the menu lists it as a starter, they give you enough for a main course, assuming you have enough of their excellent sourdough bread to accompany it.
The next day, I looked online and found more than a dozen recipes called red curry mussels, including a few from famous chefs. Those recipes are all much the same but are quite different than Fog Harbor's creation despite having the same name. In any event, I unsuccessfully tried to bribe the manager for the recipe, so I emailed them, promising to include their recipe in my next book if they would share it. Obviously, that strategy worked.
Please use PEI (Prince Edward Island) or equivalent mussels. Green-lips and other beasties just don't have the right texture and sweetness. This recipe assumes that 3 pounds of mussels will do for 3 people. That could be an understatement!
Making this dish is a 2-step process. First, you make a sauce. This can be made in large quantities (as it would be at a restaurant) and you can freeze some for later use. Second, you sauté the vegetables, add in the sauce and the mussels and steam them for a few minutes.
1 Pint Chicken stock
1 Pint Clam juice
2 14-oz Cans light coconut milk
1.5 Tbs Red curry paste, as hot as you wish
1.5 Tbs Chicken base
1/2 Cup Powdered ginger
1 Bunch Cilantro, chopped
3/4 Cup Minced garlic
2 Thai lime leaves
2 Tbs Sesame oil
1 Pinch Salt
2 Tbs Canola or peanut oil
2 Cloves Garlic, pressed or minced
1 Onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Red Bell pepper, julienned
1 Green bell pepper, julienned
3 Lbs PEI mussels, cleaned
2 Tbs Chopped cilantro
2 Tbs Chopped Thai basil
Put all of the sauce ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, then allow to cool. Strain the sauce through a sieve and discard the solids.
In a large pot, heat the oil and add the garlic, onions and peppers. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the mussels and as much sauce as you want. Bring to a boil, cover and steam until mussels have opened, about 5 minutes. Stir in some freshly chopped cilantro and Thai basil. Serve at once in large bowls with plenty of the broth..