k  Thai coconut mussels & sesame sea bass  k

I am a massive mussel fan (of the shellfish variety). My parents live in Brittany where I have tasted the most delicious plump mussels on the planet so I get very excited when mussels are in season – maybe it’s a fisherman’s myth but I do generally follow the “R” rule: the best time to eat mussels is when there is an “R” in the month. The main reasons for this rule is that shellfish usually spawn during the summer months and have a rest to let the shellfish repopulate. Spawning shellfish also taste different than at other times of the year and they have a flavour and texture that many people find off-putting. The other argument is that Red Tide most often occurs during summer months leading to high concentrations of an algae that is pretty toxic to humans. I’ve ordered mussels from menus in summer months – just because I love them so much, then quite often regret it because I’m left with all shell and no flesh…the consolation is always the mop up of the broth/stock/juice!


What mussel fan doesn’t love classic moules marinières ? But sometimes I just crave a bit of spice – I’m not sure if I can even fully express my love for this recipe, I could eat this over and over again and drink the broth many times more. The flavour is off the scale outrageous and the best part is that it can be made from scratch in 25 minutes or less.


To make this more of an impressive main course I added crispy skinned sea bass fillets (only because they were on the fish counter sitting next to the mussels). You can leave out the sea bass and you will still have a great dish perfect for a lunch or starter.


The key is building up the flavour from the bottom – starting with the lip smacking components of the home made curry paste and then add coconut milk for steaming the mussels in (only for mere few minutes).


With the clean, fresh punchy spicy coconut broth and divine plump orange mussels, it really makes this dish utterly addictive – be warned!



(Serves 4)

1 kg fresh mussels cleaned and beards removed

4 fresh sea bass fillets (skin on)

black sesame seeds

1 tbsp. coconut oil (or sesame oil)

2 stalks lemongrass

1 chilli seeds removed and chopped

4 fresh lime leaves, roughly chopped

4 shallots , preferably Thai, peeled, chopped

1 tbsp. palm sugar (or honey/coconut sugar)

1 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 can coconut milk

1 lime, juice only plus 1 lime quartered for garnish

1 bunch chopped fresh coriander (keep the stalks for the paste)

2 tbsp. chopped fresh Thai holy basil or sweet basil


To serve

Rice noodles or steamed brown rice


  1. First crush the garlic, ginger or galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves, shallots, palm sugar, fish sauce, coriander stalks and coconut oil in a pestle and mortar (or blender) to a paste.
  2. Heat a wok over a high heat with a splash of coconut oil and fry the paste for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add coconut milk and soy sauce cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Add the clean mussels and educe the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the mussels have opened. (Discard any mussels with shells that have not completely opened.)
  4. Meanwhile heat the grill to high setting, cut incisions into the skin of the sea bass and brush with coconut oil, grill for 5 minutes skin side up then sprinkle on the black sesame seeds and return to the grill for 3 more minutes until the skin becomes nice an crispy.
  5. Add the lime juice, chopped coriander, thai basil and into the mussels. Spoon the mussels  and broth into each shallow serving bowls and place the sea bass fillet alongside. Garnish with springs of fresh coriander and lime wedges.  I like to serve with rice noodles or brown rice.