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Mussels are beautiful, sensual, and they cook in minutes with a minimum of preparation or ingredients. This recipe builds on traditional French styles and adds flavors from southeast Asia for an exotic flair. Great for romantic dinners for two!

You will need:

  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into inch-long pieces and smashed with the blade of a knife
  • 6 anchovies
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 cups white wine
  • crushed dried red chilies
  • handful fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 3 lbs. mussels, debearded and scrubbed
  • zest from 1 lemon

1. Chop the garlic, and then sprinkle with salt; mash with the flat of your knife and continue to work and chop the garlic until it forms a thick paste. Add the basil (reserve some for garnish at the end) and anchovies and keep chopping and mashing until the herbs and fish are fully incorporated.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the paste and the chilies (to taste – start with a teaspoon and add more if you really like some kick) to the oil and sauté until aromatic – 2 or 3 minutes.

3. Add the wine and lemongrass and boil for 2 minutes.

4. Place the mussels into the liquid and cover the pot. Allow them to steam just until they open – around 3 or 4 minutes. Discard any mussels that don’t open.

5. Sprinkle the mussels with lemon zest and remaining chopped basil leaves, and toss in the broth with a spoon. Serve in bowls with crusty bread or toasted spiced naan.

Steamed Mussels with Chilies and Wine
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