This is a very generous serve for 2 people, decent for 3, or as a starter for 4. You will have a lot of broth left over, which is especially delicious the next day. Try making it into a noodle soup by adding some noodles and veg, and your choice of protein/s.
1/2tsp sesame oil
1/2tsp mustard seed oil
1tsp vegetable oil
1 long red chilli, sliced – part reserved for garnish
2 spring onions, sliced – part reserved for garnish
About half a head of garlic – 6ish cloves, diced
A thumb joint of ginger, finely chopped
The tender white part of 1 stalk of lemon grass, sliced finely – save the tough outer leaves for adding to infuse the broth
The roots of a bunch of coriander, washed and finely chopped
1tbsp ground black pepper
About 15 fresh curry leaves
500ml veggie stock
Can of coconut milk
Juice of one lime, keep 1 juiced half to chuck in the broth
Approx. 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
Half tablespoon of light soy
Good glug of fish sauce, perhaps 1-2 tbsp
1tbsp oyster sauce
Little lump of rock sugar, approx. 1tbsp (brown or palm would also be fine)
1 cinnamon/cassia bark stick
1 star anise
The rest of the lemongrass stalk, bashed and tied in a knot
1kg mussels, bearded and cleaned
About a handful of torn and roughly chopped coriander, washed for stirring through at the end – reserve a few whole leaves for garnish
Heat a large pan, add the mustard seed, sesame and vegetable oil. When it is nice and hot, add your aromats, and cook until tender and fragrant. Once done, add the broth ingredients and, stirring, bring to a gentle simmer. Leave, covered, for about half an hour. This is where I cleaned and debearded the mussels, to really give the broth time to develop and integrate its flavours. If you let the broth simmer for a little longer than half an hour, that’s fine – gives everything a chance to deepen its flavours a little.
After about half an hour, add your cleaned mussels to the pan. Stir through the broth, cover, and agitate the pan from time until the mussels are all cooked and open. Should take 5-10 minutes. If you can, remove the star anise, cinnamon/cassia bark stick, lemongrass knot, and half lime. Stir through the chopped coriander and serve. Garnish with the reserved red chilli slices and spring onion, and the whole coriander leaves.
Best served with steamed rice, and steamed greens such as bok choi or green beans. The rice will soak up the broth and create a delicious sort of soup.
Note: Adjust your levels of chilli up or down as you see fit – this is quite mild and could definitely stand the addition of more chilli, or even some chilli oil at the end.