Recipe: Thai-style Mussels

When I attended Mida Food’s 20th anniversary luncheon, each guest were given a bag full of frozen seafood—scallops, bacalao, softshell crab, prawns, and mussels—as a giveaway. The distributor of premium fresh and frozen seafood is known for its quality frozen products through its retail brand Pacific Bay. I immediately thought of various recipes for the seafood. I wanted to do something different for the mussels. It’s a pound of good shellfish, important from New Zealand, which was also already pre-cooked. I browsed the web and found Jamie Oliver’s Thai-style recipe. It looked simple and easy so I tried it and tweaked it a bit.

Ingredients

1 kg. mussels
1 1/2 cups fresh coconut cream
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 stalk lemon grass
1 tsp. cilantro stalks
2 pcs. bird’s eye chili (or Thai chili), chopped
1 pc. lime
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Procedure

1. Clean mussels or ask your fishmonger to do this for you. Steam or boil them for about 5 minutes until they open up. Discard any mussel that remained closed. Set aside about a cup of the water you used to cook the mussels.
2. Prep the lemon grass and cilantro. Pound the white part of the stalk until it cracks and opens up. Cut stalk into one-inch pieces. Then, separate the leaves of the cilantro from the stalks. Chop the stalks into small pieces.
3. In a pot, saute garlic and onions in vegetable oil for about 2 minutes, then add lemon grass and cilantro stalks and saute for another 2 minutes. Add coconut cream and water. Wait until it boils.
4. When boiling, add fish sauce and chili. Stir and taste, add salt if necessary. Add more chili if you want it extra spicy. Then add cooked mussels, stir and let simmer uncovered for about 2 minutes.
5. Turn off heat and squeeze lime over the mussels and mix. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves and lime wedges. Enjoy!

Serves 2 to 3

Lime, basil, and a little bit more oomph!

Before the New Year, my friends and I decided to celebrate our annual Holidays dinner in Tagaytay. Upon arriving, we immediately noticed how the city was quickly becoming highly urbanized. I hope it won’t get too urbanized because as it is, it’s losing its charm for me. I want to see greenery not malls. Yes, the mall giants are conquering Tagaytay. Ugh. I’m just happy that none of the high rise buildings are covering the beautiful view of Taal. If I get into the traffic situation, this blog post will turn into a rant article, believe me.

Anyway, the good thing about the booming tourism industry in Tagaytay is the many restaurants opening in the city. So, there are more dining options other than major fast food chains. But my golly, I miss Tom Sawyer’s fried chicken and Mushroom Burger!

We ate at one restaurant that is slowly becoming famous in the city near the clouds, Lime and Basil Thai restaurant. Tucked in barangay Sikat, Alfonso, Cavite (near Residence Inn), the restaurant promises good Thai food. With all the positive reviews, I was expecting something amazing from the resto but it failed to impress.

Let’s start with the superficial. Upon entering the gate, we were greeted by a large front yard with a big mango tree that shades over a rustic set of table and chairs and dangling rainbow colored bottle lamps. The restaurant interiors looks very homey, like a classic Asian home, very generic. It doesn’t spell Thai right out off the bat. The resto also has a small shop where it sells silver pitchers, marble mortar and pestle, napkins, among others.

Food wise, the restaurant delivers good enough Thai food. For starters, we ordered the Fresh Spring Rolls—herbs, carrots, tofu, vermicelli noodles, sweet chili relish, rolled in rice paper. It’s very fresh with all that herbs (including cilantro/coriander, my relationship with cilantro requires a whole post) and vegetables. Props to the owner because the restaurant grows its own vegetables in the backyard. Then we had the Yam Pla Duk Foo salad, a catfish and mango salad served with spicy nuts and Thai dressing. This was a little bit too sour for my taste. Maybe the mango was just sour, although the dressing should have balanced it out.

For the entrée we ordered three dishes the Kor Moo Yang (grilled pork belly with coriander sauce), Paneng Nua (beef red curry), and Sate Chicken (grilled chicken skewer with peanut sauce and served with cucumber relish dipping sauce). Let me start with the grilled pork, this one’s really good, although I didn’t taste the coriander, it’s just a regular delicious grilled pork. Grilled pork is always good to me. The chicken, on the other hand, was perfectly grilled although the peanut sauce didn’t look and taste like peanut sauce. If it already has the peanut sauce, why the cucumber dipping sauce? Confuzzled. The beef was the best for my friends, the meat was tender and it all has the right flavors of a red curry.

Now, a Thai meal is not complete without Pad Thai noodles. Now, this is when Lime and Basil really delivered. It was so good, my favorite dish of that lunch. It all has the flavors a Pad Thai needs, from the fresh herbs, sour lime, salty soy and fish taste, and heat from the chili.

My beef with the restaurant, however, is the meals are served without enough heat. Thai food is known to be spicy but the dishes here are far from spicy. Maybe this is the reason why Pinoys love the resto because it caters more to the Filipino palate than Thai. Another bad thing was the pricing. It’s very pricey for the serving size of the dishes. That grilled pork can only feed one and for P300+, geez, no. I was expecting toned down prices since we were kilometers away from imperial Manila. Overall, it was good but the food and place need a little more oomph! So I’ll consider my options when I go back to Tagaytay.

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