It’s a Thai dish1 but the similarity to the most common Filipino mussel soup is uncanny. You have the usual spices and aromatics like ginger and garlic but this Thai soup has a rich broth that is basically the natural juices of the mussels thickened with coconut milk. It’s spicier too with the inclusion of chili peppers among the ingredients.
- 1 k. of fresh mussels (cleaned, soaked and beards removed)
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, finely sliced
- 2 finger chilis
- 2 red (bird’s eye) chilis
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely sliced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 2 red bell peppers (cored, seeds removed then cut into thin strips)
- 4 tbsps. of cooking oil
- 6 c. of coconut milk
- fish sauce, to taste
- 2 tbsps. of kalamansi juice2
Heat the cooking oil. Saute the ginger, garlic, shallots, tomato and peppers until fragrant, about one minute. Pour in the coconut milk. Season with patis. When the coconut milk starts to bubble, add the mussels to the pan. Bring to the boil and cook for two minutes. Stir in the kalamansi juice and turn off the heat.
That’s it. The simplicity of the cooking procedure hides a complex flavor that is just too wonderful for words. Just try it.
1The traditional Thai recipe includes vermicelli which makes it a noodle soup.
2Lime juice is usually used in Thai cooking but since fresh lime is not always available locally, I substitute either kalamansi or lemon juice.