Watercress is prized in Asian cuisine for its peppery flavour and in this dish stands up to the sweet spiciness of the mussels in a coconut-laced red curry sauce. If you can find it in your market, use Thai basil for the garnish — it adds a unique sweet anise flavour that will make the dish taste all the more authentic.
- 2 teaspoons peanut oil, or canola oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1-2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce (see Note)
- 2 kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 6 cups trimmed watercress, (1-2 bunches) or trimmed spinach
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil, for garnish
- Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, spring onion whites, lime zest and curry paste to taste; cook until fragrant and the paste is sizzling, 1 to 3 minutes. Add lime juice, coconut milk, brown sugar and fish sauce. 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 unopened mussels.)
- Serve garnished with spring onion and basil.
To clean mussels, scrub with a stiff brush under cold running water. Scrape off any barnacles using the shell of another mussel. Pull off the fuzzy "beard" from each one (some mussels may not have a beard).