Steamed mussels are a perfect choice for a weeknight meal
Mussels are the perfect choice for a weeknight meal. They're a terrific source of low-fat protein, they're inexpensive, they cook up quickly, and as they cook, they automatically generate tasty juices to whichever sauce you're making. Also, farmed mussels are pretty easy to clean. You just toss them briefly in several changes of fresh water and pull off any strings (also known as "beards") hanging from the hinge of the shell. Finally, bonus, if you buy farmed mussels -- the most common variety available at stores today -- you'll have chosen a sustainable seafood. Here I've dressed the mussels in green for St. Patrick's Day with a garnish of chopped scallions and cilantro.
Coloring aside, the flavoring of this dish, consisting of just six ingredients, is Thai. The key actors are coconut milk and Thai curry paste, which are combined. (Don't confuse coconut milk with cream of coconut, which has lots of sugar added.) I suggest using light coconut milk because it's lighter in calories, but you're welcome to opt for the full-fat version. Thai curry paste, now available in the international aisle of most supermarkets, is totally unrelated to the curry spice mix that you find in Indian or Pakistani food. It is, as advertised, a mixture of typical Thai ingredients: lemon grass, galangal (similar to ginger), chiles and makrut lime leaves. When added to a liquid, it makes an instant flavorful sauce. Once the jar is opened it needs to be kept in the refrigerator, but it lasts a long time and you can use it as the base of a sauce for other seafood dishes or for chicken or meat.
So how about trying this six-ingredient recipe the next time you want to mix it up a bit on a weeknight? You'll have a delicious dinner on the table in just 30 minutes. And don't forget to put some bread on the side. It's just the thing to sop up all those juices.
• Sara Moulton is host of public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals." She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows including "Cooking Live." Her latest cookbook is "HomeCooking 101."