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Thai Mussel Bisque

17-May-2005

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Several years ago I made a recipe for "Steamed Mussels in Thai Basil Coconut Broth" from Dishing with Kathy Casey for a Cooking Club meeting.  I absolutely love the recipe and have made it several times since, substituting whatever I have on hand for the broth ingredients.   The one thing that has been a bit of a nagging concern, is that I usually have at least one pound of mussels – at $3/lb it seems silly to ask for any less – but many times I eat only about 1/2 pound.  And there’s just something about eating "day-old" mussels that doesn’t really appeal to me.  But I came up with a great solution this last weekend!

I started with the basic recipe:

Steamed Mussels in Thai Basil Coconut Broth
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
2 tsp. minced garlic
¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. minced fresh lemongrass (Optional)
13.5 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
2 tsp. Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh Thai Basil
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 pounds fresh mussels, washed and debearded
½ cup matchstick cut carrots
½ cup matchstick cut red bell pepper
¼ cup slivered green onion
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and lemongrass and cook, stirring often, for about 30 seconds; do not let the mixture burn. Add the coconut milk, fish and soy sauce, Thai Basil, lime juice, mussels, carrots, red peppers, and green onions. Bring to boil and cover immediately. Steam the mussels covered for 3 to 5 minutes – or until mussels open. Immediately remove from heat and with slotted spoon divide the mussels (discard any not open) and vegetables between 4 bowls and pour the broth over them. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.

But I made the following adjustments based on what was in the fridge: 

1 cup of young leeks in 1/2" slices
1 green garlic sliced into 1/2" slices
no lemon grass :-(
African Blue Basil in place of Thai Basil
1 tsp (or more) green curry paste instead of peppers and pepper flakes 

You get the idea…

Anyway, I ate as many mussels as I could and then came up with the following idea: 

Thai Mussel Bisque
Place all the leftover broth (including vegetables and herbs) in a blender and blend until smooth.  (It will still have some texture. ) Remove 1/2 lb steamed mussels from their shells.  Add the mussels to the pureed broth in the blender.  Blend until smooth.  Chill. 

To serve, place one cup of the bisque in saucepan over very low heat for 30 minutes, covered and stirring occasionally.  When bisque is completely heated divide between two cups as first course or place in one cup as a more substantial serving.  Garnish with sour cream and chopped cilantro or chives, if desired. 

Add a slice of country style bread (like the rosemary ciabatta from Essential Baking Company) or crackers (like the Partners Crackers in the photo), and maybe a nice glass of wine and enjoy!

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