Thai Red Curry Mussels

Some of you might have guessed I’m a bit of a control freak. Fine, not just a bit. Maybe like, a lot a of a control freak. I take lots of care and pride and making sure that my nutritional calculations are accurate for both my own sake and yours (which is why I’m obsessed with my food scale.)

This week, I saw that mussels were on sale. They’re not something I make too often (maybe just once or twice before?) but I know my husband loves them. I like them too, when prepared well, and I know that like other shellfish, they’re a healthy, lean protein. So I set about my regular mission with the intent to prepare something delicious and healthy to share with you. I scoured the ‘net for inspirational ideas, of which I found many. But there was one problem. With all the searching I did, I could not manage to find the nutritional information for mussels based on yield from fresh-in-the-shell. And this is exactly what I’d need to know in order to prepare my recipe. I found some information based on cooked mussel meat, but who knows how many raw mussels 3oz of meat comes from? Those shells are heavy. Of course it could be determined by weighing the raw mussels, cooking, pulling out all the meat, and then weighing the empty shells. I may have a decent kitchen, but it’s not a food lab. And I wanted to just make my dinner and enjoy it.
So I regret to say that I didn’t have the confidence to create a recipe entirely from scratch simply because I wouldn’t be able to provide accurate nutritional information. I know, many people might not really care, but like I said: it’s something I take pride in. And I want to keep that somewhat-unique aspect to my blog because I know it’s important for those trying to lose weight or achieve certain fitness goals.

I am happy to say, however, that I found some great recipes for mussels over at Eating Well, and these folks do a great job with providing nutritional content. I chose a recipe for Thai Red Curry Mussels that involved a garlicky coconut milk-based broth, and seeing how low in calories and carbs it was, I decided to add a serving of rice noodles to each portion. The recipe calls for garnishing with Thai basil. I knew there wasn’t a glimmer of hope that I’d find that in my regular grocery stores, so I intended to substitute cilantro – unfortunately, they were all out of that too. And so I went with mint, a bit begrudgingly, but it actually turned out fantastically. The only changes I made were to add some grated fresh ginger and a cup of chicken broth in order to create more sauce for the noodles, but next time I would also go heavier on the curry paste.

This recipe halves quite easily. Keep in mind that you can freeze coconut milk since you’ll only need half the can – I do this all the time since I’m only cooking for two. Once I find out some accurate nutritional information for mussels, I’d love to come up with something original, but for now I am pretty happy with this recipe.

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Thai Red Curry Mussels

Slightly adapted from Eating Well, changes shown in purple text


2 teaspoons peanut oil, or canola oil (I used olive oil)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (I used two, even for half the recipe)
2 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1-2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (I used one heaping teaspoon for half the recipe, but would definitely use more next time)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 14-ounce can “lite” coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce, (see Note)
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
6 cups trimmed watercress, (1-2 bunches) or trimmed spinach (I used spinach)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil, for garnish (mint works fabulously!)


Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, scallion whites, lime zest, ginger, and curry paste to taste; cook until fragrant and the paste is sizzling, 1 to 3 minutes. Add lime juice, coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and let cook for 2 minutes.

Add mussels, return to a simmer, cover and cook for 6 minutes. Spread watercress (or spinach) over the mussels, cover and cook until slightly wilted, about 4 minutes; stir into the mussels. (Discard any mussels which haven't opened.) Serve garnished with scallion greens and basil.

Nutrition Facts:

Nutrition Per serving (original recipe, with additions of ginger, broth, and noodles):
273 calories; 13 g fat (6 g sat, 2 g mono); 48 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 24 g protein; 1 g fiber; 582 mg sodium; 438 mg potassium.

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8 Responses to “Thai Red Curry Mussels”

  1. 1

    Coniqua — January 5, 2010 @ 1:15 pm Reply

    I love Thai red curry. These look great!

  2. 2

    Heidi — January 5, 2010 @ 2:26 pm Reply

    Yumm! DH and I love mussels and are always looking for new ways to make them! PS: I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your nutritional information, it really means alot that you take the time to figure it out.

  3. 3

    Liz — January 5, 2010 @ 4:40 pm Reply

    This looks fantastic, Cara!

  4. 4

    Kelly — January 5, 2010 @ 9:07 pm Reply

    I absolutely adore mussels. They are actually relatively inexpensive for seafood and like you said, relatively lean and protein rich. I love to do all kinds of different preparations – Hard cider with onions, bacon, and parsley; and especially a curry version I made with coconut last valentine's day that was delicious.KellyThe Pink Apron

  5. 5

    preventionrd — January 6, 2010 @ 1:21 am Reply

    Oh my gosh, yum! If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life…this may very well be it!

  6. 6

    Liz — April 5, 2011 @ 1:23 am Reply

    This looks fantastic, Cara!

  7. 7

    Jennifer — May 12, 2012 @ 3:08 pm Reply

    I just made this and it is so DELICIOUS! i will be making this dish again and again in the future! Thank You for sharing!

    • 7.1

      Cara — May 12, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

      glad you liked it!

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