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Before we became parents, my husband and I went out to with happy hour for date night. Our go-to was a local Latin-inspired restaurant that served amazing cocktails and flavorful appetizers, including steamed mussels. I ordered it every time.
Unfortunately, the restaurant closed and life became too hectic for regular date nights. I miss our weekly happy hour dates. Not to mention those mussels. I always asked for extra crusty bread to dip in the broth. My husband became a steamed mussel convert after a bowl of those.
Date night at fancy restaurants might not happen as often anymore, but I can still create a sophisticated dinner at home. This spicy coconut lemongrass mussels recipe paired with homemade crusty basil bread made me feel like we were at our private happy hour again. The coconut broth is flavored with ginger, lemongrass, basil and garlic mixed with the briny mussels. Heaven in a bowl!
Imagine setting a pot of these mussels right on the dinner table for your guests to dig into. Your friends will ooh and ahh over your cooking skills. Even better, make it in a gorgeous pot like my Calphalon Signature™ Nonstick 5qt dutch oven and it can go straight from stove to table.
If you’re serving the mussels with crusty bread and a side salad, it will serve four people and allow room for dessert. I personally could eat half the pot in one sitting, but I won’t be selfish.
It’s important to slowly build the flavors for the broth. That’s why the Calphalon Signature™ Nonstick 5qt dutch oven is perfect for this recipe. It offers a nonstick surface with the convenience of stainless steel. I could use my metal serving spoon with it and not scratch the surface. Not to mention my shallots and garlic browned beautifully in it.
Note about lemongrass: some recipes call for finely chopping it but I hate chewing on the woody pieces. So I cut them into chunks and guests can just eat around them. No woody pieces stuck in their teeth!
Once the aromatics have softened and begun to brown, add the fresh basil and chopped jalapenos (optional). Then goes in the coconut milk and a fish sauce. Make sure you’re using unsweetened coconut milk and not coconut water.
Give it a stir, toss in the mussels and cover to steam in that coconut broth. The first time I brought home a bag of mussels, I was terrified. It’s not as scary as it sounds. If you purchased your mussels from a grocery store, most of the work is done for you. You’ll just need to rinse them and toss out any broken ones. They’re alive so you see them open and close as you rinse them. So don’t be afraid of such deliciousness.
You know what else I love about this dutch oven? The glass lid. I could easily see when the mussels opened. They open as they cook, which takes about 5-7 minutes. Since I could see easily see the mussels through the lid, I didn’t have to open it and release all that precious steam.
How to Plan a Stress Free Dinner Party
Hosting a gourmet dinner in your home doesn’t have to be stressful. The key is planning ahead. Wouldn’t you rather sit down with your guests instead of running around in the kitchen?
- Create a timeline. It only takes 15 minutes to plan out everything you need to prep for your dinner party
- 2 weeks before: Plan your menu and create a shopping list
- 5-7 days before: Shop for ingredients, including wine
- 2-3 days before: If anything can be made ahead (partially or fully), start at this time. Pick up flowers or centerpieces
- 1 day before: Do a quick clean of your home
- Day of your dinner party: Start early, just in case anything unexpected happens.
- Make dishes that don’t require a lot of hands on work. Slow simmered dishes, braised meats or quick cooking dishes means you won’t have to fuss over the entrees while your guests are eating their salads.
- Order dessert from a bakery or serve a palate cleansing sorbet. There’s no shame in this. Focus your attention on the main course because that’s the most memorable part of the meal. Besides your guests, of course.
Here’s my timeline of to-dos for my mussels dinner party:
- 2 weeks before: My menu consists of no knead basil bread, coconut lemongrass mussels, an arugula salad with balsamic dressing, and strawberry basil sorbet (storebought) for dessert. See a basil theme here?
- 5-7 days before: Shop for ingredients–except for mussels, fresh basil, and salad ingredients
- 2-3 days before: Buy mussels, fresh basil and salad ingredients. Start dough for my whole wheat basil bread. Purchase flowers.
- 1 day before: A quick clean of my home. Chill wine if necessary.
- Day of my dinner party
- 2 hours before guests arrive I pull out the dough and let it rest before baking.
- 1 hour before: Chop and prep all ingredients for mussels. Wash mussels. Put bread into oven.
- 30 minutes before: Set the dinner table. Open wine. Remove bread from oven and let it cool. Assemble salad and make salad dressing.
- 15 minutes before guests arrive: Cook mussels
By the time my guests arrive, everything is almost done. All I need to do is bring over my steaming dutch oven filled with delicious mussels.
I hope I’ve inspired you to tackle mussels for your next dinner party or fancy date night dinner with your honey.
I’m totally in love with my new Calphalon Signature™ Nonstick 5qt dutch oven. It’s lightweight and even dishwasher safe. I picked mine up at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a store coupon. Even without the coupon, it’s worth the investment because the pot comes with Calphalon’s lifetime guarantee.
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1-2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1-2 jalapenos or thai chiles, chopped (optional)
- 1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
- 1½ cups unsweetened coconut milk (not coconut water)
- 2 pounds fresh mussels, rinsed
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- Juice from ½ lime
- Trim ends of lemongrass and remove the outer layers. Cut into 1-2" pieces.
- Heat oil on medium heat in a 5qt lidded pot or dutch oven until hot. Add lemongrass, shallot, ginger, and garlic. Cook until soft and garlic starts to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add jalapenos if using and ½ of the fresh basil. Let cook for 2 minutes and add unsweetened coconut milk and lemon juice.
- Immediately add mussels and cover. Cook until mussels have opened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Before serving, remove any unopened mussels and stir to coat them in the broth. Garnish with remaining chopped basil. Serve with lime wedges if desired.
- Serve with crusty bread.