A hearty dish of vegetables, seafood and noodles.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 (or more) fresh or dried green or red chiles
2 lemongrass stalks, cut into 3" pieces
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
12 oz. thin brown rice noodles or whole wheat angel hair
1/2 cup coconut milk (reduced-fat is fine)
4 oz. daikon, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 carrot, cut into coins
3 lb. mussels, preferably wild, well scrubbed
2 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Step 1: Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Put 1 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they puff and begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the chilies, lemongrass, lime juice, salt, and pepper to the pot along with 2 cups water. Cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary so the mixture bubbles steadily, 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 2: When the kettle comes to a boil, put the noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit, stirring once or twice with a fork, until the noodles are tender but not mushy, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well and toss with the remaining 1 tbsp oil.
Step 3: Add the coconut milk to the pot along with the daikon, bell pepper, and carrot; stir and return the liquid to a bubble. Carefully put the mussels on top of the vegetables, sprinkle with the scallions, turn the heat up to high, and cover the pot. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until all (or nearly all) of the shells open, 5 to 10 minutes. (Discard any that do not open.)
Step 4: Divide the noodles among shallow bowls. Ladle the mussels, vegetables and broth over the rice noodles, fishing out the lemongrass stalks as you see them. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
Mussels, Corn & Noodles In Coconut Broth
Unreal with fresh corn on the cob, but when it isn't in season, 2 cups frozen kernels is a fine substitute. Skip the daikon. Husk 2 ears of corn and cut the cobs crosswise into coins about 1" wide. Toss them into the pot with the coconut milk and other vegetables in step 3.
Mussels, Vegetables & Pasta In Tomato Broth
You can take this in a completely different direction by swapping a few key ingredients. Substitute olive oil for the vegetable oil, another tbsp of minced garlic for the ginger, 4 bay leaves for the lemongrass, 2 cups chopped tomatoes instead of the water, and chopped fresh basil instead of the cilantro. For the vegetables, try 1 bunch chopped escarole and use angel hair (whole wheat is nice) instead of the rice noodles.
Reprinted with permission from Mark Bittman's The VB6 Cookbook (2014 Clarkson Potter).