Thai Coconut Mussels

Packed with flavor, this dish is quick to put together and fun to eat!

I’ve wanted to make mussels for a while but never hit it right at the fish market. This week I got lucky and found some beautiful ones, and my fish monger told me how she likes to cook them the best. Not really a recipe, but she said to use garlic, ginger, lemon grass, scallions, a spicy red pepper, and coconut milk.

Use lots of cilantro?

She also said to use lots of cilantro, but I’m one of those persons who not only thinks it tastes like soap, but the smell of it in large concentrations makes me feel queasy! She also told me she used to feel the same way but “grew out of it!” So, there is hope.

Of course, since I was looking for lemon grass, it was not to be found! I substituted a lemon and its zest and it worked well, but I’m sure the lemon grass would have been better.

Shrimp stock to the rescue

I had some shrimp stock tucked in the freezer, and I was glad it was there. It was a simple stock I made by boiling the shells of 1 lb. of shrimp with a bay leaf for 30 minutes. I let it sit until cool, then strained and froze. I like to keep this on hand in two-cup freezer containers.

You can also use stock from the fish market or grocery store.Or, use vegetable stock or the wine with a splash of fish sauce. I actually used half stock and half wine this time. Either way, you will end up with an extremely flavorful broth, perfect for dunking some toasted bread. As the mussels open, they release their own juices to the mix as well.

Thai coconut mussels
A hearty and satisfying bowl of mussels and creamy coconut broth. I had some leftover brown rice and we scooped little spoons of it into what was left of the broth after we devoured the mussels.

Thai Coconut Mussels

Serves  4 

  • 3 lbs. mussels
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 5 scallions, sliced
  • Sliced hot pepper or large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup fish stock or white wine
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • ½ cup flat-leafed parsley or cilantro, chopped

Prep the mussels. Remove any beards (use a towel and give a good tug) and scrub them. If any are open, give them a gentle tap. If it slowly closes, the mussel is good. Discard any that do not close, and any that are broken. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat coconut oil over medium high and add the garlic, ginger, the sliced whites of the scallions, and the red pepper flakes. Cook for a minute or two and add the mussels and wine.

Add the fish stock and gently dump in the mussels. Cover and let cook for two minutes and check. If some of the mussels have opened, remove just those to a bowl and keep warm. Check the rest every half minute or so and take out any that have opened.

Once they have all opened, add the coconut milk, zest and juice, and the parsley. Give a good few grinds of fresh black pepper and return the mussels to the pot to rewarm.

Serve with baguette slices for dunking, or a little rice in the broth if you have it on hand.


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  1. Sounds delicious, I may try it with tofu.

    1. Absolutely!!!!!

  2. Great combination of flavors you have here, and the mussels look so fresh!

    1. They were delicious! Worth the wait.

  3. Yumolicious. 👀🍃

  4. Beautiful recipe (and photos!!) About cilantro. It’s a gene and you don’t really grow out of it, but this is what I think happens for what it’s worth. Some are more sensitive than others and those that are less sensitive can probably tolerate it better these days. But it’s not a change in them, it’s a change in the cilantro. The smell taste that is offensive is much more prevalent when the cilantro, in the summer heat is near “bolting” or finished and ready to set seed. With the rise of popularity, the cilantro that is picked and getting to the markets is probably farmed properly, picked at the just the right time to keep it fresh as it ships (so earlier than it used to be) and contains less of those compounds.

    1. Thank you so much for this information! It is very helpful and makes so much sense! I was at a farm stand not long ago and they were packing cilantro. Even with my mask on, I immediately started feeling queasy and couldn’t walk into the building, and I think I’ve been around them packing it at other times with a reaction that was not as severe. I have tried to eat it many times over the years to see if it was just a flavor that I needed to get used to, but it hasn’t gotten any better! I’ll just happily stick with the parsley!

      1. I am one who can tolerate small amounts at times but it’s always a crap shoot and best avoided! IMHO!! I use a lot of parsley in place of cilantro, too.

      2. Thanks again for the information!

  5. I’m like you, can’t stand soapy cilantro! I’m not big on mussels, but your coconut treatment sounds really good and different.

    1. Thank you! They were quite delicious, but I do have to admit my favorite part of eating mussels (besides the fun of using them as little mussel tweezers) is the broth!!!!!

  6. Thai food is so yummy! Great delicious share, Dorothy! 🍃👌

  7. Sherry says:

    isn’t that interesting about coriander/cilantro? i knew that it was a genetic thing but as it has never seemed soapy to me, i couldn’t really understand what people meant other than it is a very much acquired taste which i made myself acquire over time. i guess my taste buds were affected rather than it being genetic for me. Love mussels!

    1. It is interesting. I remember sending out a breakfast dish with southwest flavors and I had minced parsley on top. On of the guests almost jumped out of her chair because she thought it was cilantro! I assured her that I would never serve this herb without announcing it!

  8. Julia says:

    It is such a shame that cilantro tastes soapy to you. I know other people who hate cilantro as well, which I can understand since soap isn’t a good taste. :😟
    I love mussels and Thai food, so this sounds like a great combination!

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