16 Apr 2009

Recipe: Thai Mussels with Lemongrass, Basil and Kaffir Lime

I've been meaning to post this recipe up for a while now. I made these mussels a while back and this is my absolute hands-down favorite mussel recipe. I don't even make other recipes anymore when I cook mussels because I just love this one so much and it has such intense flavor. I also love Thai food and the unique Asian flavors really make this recipe special. Here's what you will need for a main course for 2 people, or as an appetizer for 4-6 people. I serve this with some crusty French bread to mop up the juices, or if you want to do the traditional French thing, you can serve it with homemade French fries. (When I make French fries, I make them in the oven on a baking tray with just a few tablespoons of olive oil to cut down on unhealthy fat.) You will find the specialty ingredients in Asian food markets.

Remember that Thai chilies are very hot, so use gloves when handling if necessary, or wash your hands after to avoid transferring to your eyes. One whole chili will probably be enough for most palettes, if you want extra spicy, add a second one. If you want less spice, you can also remove the seeds but handle with care, you don't want the chili getting underneath your nails (I speak from personal experience.) This is what Thai chilis look like:

Also, this is what Thai basil looks like, it's not the same as normal Italian basil. Thai basil has a strong flavor reminiscent of licorice!

This is lemongrass, a fragrant lemon scented plant:

And these are kaffir lime leaves, another very fragrant lemon-lime scented leaf from the kaffir lime tree, that adds a wonderful flavor to sauces:


1kg - 1.5kg of mussels
1 tblsp. sesame seed oil
1 tblsp. vegetable oil
1 medium sized onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 stalks of fresh lemongrass, only the inner white part, finely chopped
1-2 red Thai chilis, chopped
350ml white wine
1 tblsp. Asian fish sauce
40g Thai Basil leaves, finely chopped (not the same as Italian basil)
6 Kaffir lime leaves

1. Clean mussels by scrubbing the outer shell and remove the beard at the base of the mussel if necessary. If you have no idea how to do this, this online tutorial shows you how. Remove any mussels with broken shells. Rinse the mussels in cold water for a few minutes, then drain.

2. In a very large pot, mix and heat up both oils and stir fry the onion, lemongrass, garlic and chillies for 4 minutes until everything is lightly browned and the onions are glassy. Add wine, fishsauce and whole kaffir lime leaves to the mixture. Cover with a lid and let simmer on low heat for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to unfold.

3. Add mussels to the pot, close lid, and give the mussels a thorough shake through to mix the broth with the mussels. Allow the broth to heat up again, and with the lid firmly closed, steam mussels for about 6-8 minutes until all the shells have opened. Don't overcook the mussels, otherwise they will turn hard and chewy.

4. After mussels have opened, sprinkle chopped Thai basil leaves over the mussels and give one last shake through before serving. Serve and enjoy! You can also serve this with steamed perfume rice for a full meal if you like.

Let me know if you try it out and if you liked this! It's a very healthy meal and very flavorful.


  1. Thank you so much for this! I am always looking for new recipes for mussels! xo

  2. Yummy, I just cooked this the other day.
    Its one of my fave dishes!
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. i love Thai food! I'm actually making Tom Yum Soup tonight. May have to make these mussels for a side dish. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. i looove thai food. thai basil is probably one of my all time favorite herbs. thanks for the website!

  5. Oh, I have most of these herbs in my backyard! I really want to try making this recipe.

  6. Anonymous6:25 am

    Oh, you have it all; beauty, brains and you know how to cook.... This dish looks delicious Julia. Can't wait to try! Thank you for sharing. Danielle

  7. Damn it! I shouldn't have looked at this post at 11pm!! Now I'm craving some seafood.....Your SO is so lucky to have you!

  8. Anonymous8:26 am

    oh wow that actually looks like itd be good, far from what id usually eat!! lol By the way I started blogging too...So check it out!!

  9. I'm a vegetarian, but oh my goodness! This sounds absolutely delicious!
    - Mary