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How To Make: Mussel and Pineapple Curry

Posted date:  October 4, 2006
12 Comments


Coconut milk-based curries are among the first Thai dishes I ever tried to make. And they never turned out right. Never. I didn’t know then that these kind of curries are among the most difficult Thai dishes to make. There are a couple reasons for this. For one, there are two very different ways of making them. The most common curries, the ones you see with a layer of oil floating on top, are made my slowly sauteeing the khreuang kaeng (curry paste) in the “thick” coconut milk until the coconut oil “breaks” and emerges to the top. The “thin” or diluted coconut milk is then added towards the end. Alternatively, there curries where you begin with thin coconut milk, and slowly add the thick so that a layer of oil doesn’t form! The curry below is the latter, and I think kind is much easier to make. Although one danger with this kind of curry is that it can get too thick and creamy. You want the end result to be just slightly watery, not too thick. If it does get too thick then add some plain water (or dilulted coconut milk) at the end. And remember to season to taste! The pineapple in this recipe will give the curry a sweet taste, so only a bit of sugar (if any) is necessary.

If you follow these directions exactly, and use some good-quality mussels, I guarantee you’ll like this one.

Curry with Mussels and Pineapple Kaeng Sapparot Kap Hoy Malaengphoo
(Serves 4)

_DSC1415.jpg

Ingredients
Curry Paste
Large dried chilies 10, seeds removed, softened in warm water
Small dried chilies 20
Salt 1 tsp
Peppercorns 1 tsp
Galingale, chopped 1 Tbsp
Lemongrass, chopped 3 stalks
Kaffir lime peel, chopped 1 tsp
Garlic 30 small cloves
Chopped fresh turmeric 1 tsp
Shallots 5, sliced
Shrimp paste 1 tsp
Mussels 1 kg
Thin coconut milk* 500 ml
Thick coconut milk** 250 ml
Chopped pineapple 250 ml
Fish sauce 2 Tbsp
Sugar 2 tsp
Tamarind paste 2 Tbsp

*Thin coconut milk is canned coconut milk that has been diluted, 50%, with water.
**Thick coconut milk is the coconut milk that comes directly from the can.

Method
Starting with your curry paste ingredients:

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Use a mortar and pestle or a food processor grind them together until you get this:

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Set aside.

Wash and de-beard the mussels. Bring a large pot of a water to the boil and add the mussels, and boil until they open, about 3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat and set aside. Discard the shells.

Over medium heat, bring the thin coconut milk to a gentle boil. Add the curry paste and stir until fully blended with the coconut milk.

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Increase heat slightly and add mussels and pineapple.

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Gradually add remaining thick coconut milk, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring to combine. Don’t let the curry boil to rapidly, or the undesired coconut oil might separate. Add fish sauce, sugar and tamarind. Bring to a final boil and add remaining thick coconut milk.

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Serve hot with rice as part of a Thai meal.


12 Comments for How To Make: Mussel and Pineapple Curry


Your pictures are truly beautiful!

“The most common curries, the ones you see with a layer of oil floating on top, are made my slowly sauteeing the khreuang kaeng (curry paste) in the “thick” coconut milk until the coconut oil “breaks” and emerges to the top.”

Not intending to be picky, but wouldn’t this be boiling the curry paste? Then when the oil comes out, and once all of the water in the coconut cream/milk has evaporated, _then_ the paste will start frying?

Don’t you start off by boiling the coconut milk/cream by itself until all of the moisture has evaporated and you are left with only oil and then add the paste? I am not criticising, I am actually asking – I have never been sure as to what is the correct method.

Anyways, I love your blog, it is without a doubt the best thai food blog – I think you are right up there with David Thompson when it comes to a non thai cooking thai food :-).

Cheers,
Thomas.

Yum, yum, yum! I will be making this in the near future!

I took a cooking class in Chiang Mai where I learned how to cook the curry paste in thick coconut milk, but at home, have never been able to get that oil slick on top. This could be because the canned coconut milk I get isn’t separated. Still, my curry always tastes great.

rasa malaysia: Thanks!

Thomas: I reckon you could make the “oily” coconut curries the way you suggested, but I think most Thais do it the way I mention. The reason being that while sauteeing the thick coconut milk, you’re also simultaneously releasing the oils from the curry paste. Instructions in Thai-language cookbooks always say to fry the curry paste in the thick coconut milk until it’s fragrant; I think this is an important step to release the desired flavors and smells. It is closer to frying/sauteeing than boiling because the volume of thick coconut milk is not very much, and it evaporates quite quickly.

maryeats: Do try it; if you can get your hands on the curry paste ingredients, it’s a relatively simple recipe and is really delicious. Sometimes you really have to be patient in order for the oil to separate from the thick coconut milk. I can take several minutes.

Sawadee kha Austin,
I don’t know how I missed your blog all this time! I have visted Thailand more than 30 times over the past 20 years. I am simply passionate about Thai cuisine and culture and have been learning from some of the best-from street vendor to top chefs including my dear friend of 20+ years Kasma Loha-unchit. My husband took our first Thai cooking lessons from her 20+ years ago.

I am enjoying and learning reading your past blog articles. The photographs are awesome. What is your camera?

BTW I have always made my curries the Thai way-frying until fragrant in the thick part of the coconut milk. We often make our own pastes as my husband loves to use the mortar and pestle saying it tastes better when made this way.

Living in California we can buy and grow many of our own ingredients such as 8 bai magroot and even bai chaploo.

Sawadee kha Austin,
I don’t know how I missed your blog all this time! I have visted Thailand more than 30 times over the past 20 years. I am simply passionate about Thai cuisine and culture and have been learning from some of the best-from street vendor to top chefs including my dear friend of 20+ years Kasma Loha-unchit. My husband took our first Thai cooking lessons from her 20+ years ago.

I am enjoying and learning reading your past blog articles. The photographs are awesome. What is your camera?

BTW I have always made my curries the Thai way-frying until fragrant in the thick part of the coconut milk. We often make our own pastes as my husband loves to use the mortar and pestle saying it tastes better when made this way.

Living in California we can buy and grow many of our own ingredients such as 8 bai magroot and even bai chaploo.

This might seem like a silly question but do you take the stalks off the dried chillies or include them in making the paste?

aroy mak mak!

your blog always makes me miss Thailand *lol*

Bravo! Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous photos and recipes. I hope some day to return to Thailand and take a cooking course. So far, the only Thai I speak is culinary ;-)
eileen :-)

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