Massaman Mussels

Massaman curry – a Thai curry paste or gaeng matsaman, is said to have Indian Muslim roots. From what I have read, the word ‘massaman’ essentially means ‘musselmen’ – an archaic word for Muslim. The flavour could have been brought to Thailand by Goan Portuguese of Islamic origin – or so I have read. It could have also been imported by Arabian traders … who knows?  Whoever brought it or invented it gets my standing ovation.

I love this curry paste, the most versatile curry base I have encountered. It cooks well with just about any meat or vegetable.  It can be mild, medium, or hot without compromising flavor. It works as well with coconut milk or without. It reminds me of a good old friend:  perfect at all times, no matter how you are feeling or what you have to offer – good with or without any frills.

I couldn’t resist cooking some (ahem) mussels with this ‘musselmen’ curry, could I? It is just impossible to ignore.

My favorite part – besides using both hands to eat – is savouring the broth and dunking thick slices of toast to sweep clean the bottom of the bowl.

Since I am such a fan of the broth, I like adding a few shrimp (with the tail still on) to give the broth more flavor and the dish a bit more meat.

YOU WILL NEED (serves 2)

  • Fresh mussels: 900 g
  • Shrimp(optional): 6-8
  • Shallots: finely chopped 2 tbsp
  • Tomatoes: diced, ¼ cup
  • Scallions: 1 stalk, cut into small pieces
  • Massaman curry paste: 1 tsp if mild, extra ½ tsp to increase from mild to medium hot
  • Oil: 1 tbsp
  • Coconut milk: ½ cup
  • Water: 2 ½  cup
  • For garnish: Coriander leaves, chopped scallions and diced tomatoes


  • Wash and clean mussels in fresh running water, discarding ones that stay opened.
  • Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add Massaman curry paste and the shallots. Fry until shallots are almost translucent and curry separates from oil. Add tomatoes and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring and making sure it doesn’t catch the bottom of the pan.
  • Add coconut milk, increase heat and boil for a minute. Add water and let boil. Add mussels, stir, and reduce heat to simmer and cover. Stir occasionally and let cook for 5 minutes. Add shrimp at this stage if using. The mussels will start opening. Discard those that are still closed. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring to make sure they are evenly distributed. Remove mussels to a serving bowl as they open for perfectly cooked mussels; spoon the shrimp and pour the hot cooking broth over the mussels before serving.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves, scallions and tomatoes. Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Massaman Mussels

  1. Yum, curry-simmered mussels are among my favorite ways to eat shellfish. I’ve had mussels in a green curry broth before, which was fantastic, but these look phenomenal!

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