Sake-Steamed Mussels in Thai Red Curry Sauce

Ben Smith

Tsunami, Memphis, TN

This dish drew “oohs” and “ahs” all around when Ben Smith served it at the Beard House. If you prefer a less rich taste, our recipe tester tells us that light coconut milk also works fine.


  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, white part only, chopped fine
  • 4 large leaves fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
  • Chopped chives or basil as garnish, optional
  • 3 pounds black mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1/2 cup sake


To make the sauce, combine the coconut milk, lemongrass, basil, brown sugar, fish sauce, and ginger in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves, then reduce to a simmer. Dissolve the curry paste in a small bowl by stirring in some of the hot coconut milk mixture. Add this liquid back to the saucepan and simmer until the volume is reduced by about half, around 15 minutes.

When the sauce is almost finished, discard any mussels that are open. Place the remaining mussels and sake in another heavy-bottomed pot. Bring the sake to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and steam the mussels for about 5 minutes, until they have all opened. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, place the mussels into 6 warmed bowls. Drizzle the coconut-curry sauce over the mussels, garnish with chopped chives or basil, and serve immediately.


6 servings