MUSSELS IN COCONUT CREAM SAUCE
The Brazilian Kitchen
by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz
Mexilhoes corn Molho de Coco
Mussels are budget-friendly, easy to prepare, widely available, extremely tasty, and go well with so many flavors. This recipe is just as much about the broth as it is about the mussel. While cooking, the mussels become tender and sweet, and exude their own juices—infusing the sauce with the perfect ocean flavor. It's worth having a piece of bread on the side to catch any leftover sauce. Choose mussels that smell like the ocean, and with tightly shut shells, or shells that shut when tapped, as a sign that they are alive. Discard any mussels that don't open while cooking. Try to buy the mussels the day you'll eat them.
Makes 4 Servings
• 3½ to 4 pounds mussels
• 2 tablespoons dende oil
• 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
• 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper, about one third of a pepper
• 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, about one third of a pepper
• 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper, about one third of a pepper
• 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 1½ cups coconut milk
• kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 plum tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced
• 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1. Rinse and scrub the mussels. Discard any mussel with a cracked shell and remove the bearded hair.
2. In a large pan (enough to handle all the mussels), warm the dende oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes.Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Add the mussels and wine. Cover the pan and cook until the mussels open their shells, shaking the pan occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes (be sure not to cook the mussels any longer or they will taste rubbery).
4. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the mussels and place them in a bowl. Cover with a tight lid to keep moist.
5. Bring the remaining sauce to a boil and add the coconut milk. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens, about 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
6. Return the mussels and any accumulated juices in the bowl to the pan. Add the tomato, cover, and cook for 2 minutes, just to reheat them.
7. Divide the mussels among 4 plates, spoon the sauce over, and garnish with the cilantro.