Thursday, April 28, 2011

Special Beer Pairing: Thai-Style Steamed Mussels with Coconut Milk & Basil

Thai-Style Steamed Mussels
When first approached, I jumped at the chance to create a beer pairing recipe for the New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of the popular Fat Tire beer.

I absolutely love pairing wine with food, so why not extend my skills and work with beer? My first stop was Whole Foods, where I picked up a case of Trippel Belgium Style Ale, New Belgium's boldest and strongest beer with the longest fermentation (and highest alcohol at around 8%). The beer opens with a blast of hops that smoothly gives way to complex character, finishing with a spicy punch of coriander. This was a big beer with a big personality, and not for the weak of heart. While the obvious choice would have been to go for meat, either braising or roasting it, I wanted to do something a little bit different.

Inspired by the spicy character and coriander flavors, I immediately thought of curry (coriander is one of the major components in a lot of curry), and this led me down the road to Thailand. With such a bold beer, I figured that it would hold up well to the strong flavors and spiciness of Thai aromatics. And instead of meat, I decided that I would steam mussels in the beer itself, finishing them with coconut milk and julienned basil.

As I worked with it, this dish took on a life of its own, and is hands down the best mussels recipe that I've ever cooked. First, I sauteed shallots in Kelapo organic coconut oil to add as much rich coconut character to the dish as possible. The aroma that immediately filled my kitchen was intoxicating. Then, I added a ton of ginger, lime zest, and chili flakes to the pan. Even more aroma arose from the pan.

Next, a half a bottle of Trippel ale went in, foaming and reducing. It was time to add the black mussels. I steamed them until they were just beginning to open, and then stirred in coconut milk and seasoned the broth with salt and pepper. Once the mussels were cooked, I garnished them with julienned basil and served them right away, with  bottles of Trippel ale and crusty French bread to soak up the sauce.

From the first sip and bite, it was clear that the pairing was a success. The beer, while strong, had complex spice and character that held up under the strong Thai flavors of the mussels. They complimented each other beautifully. The mussels were fresh and flavorful, but the sauce was the true star. The beer, coconut, and Thai aromatics blended together into an amazing nectar.

I'll be making this dish again very shortly. It's my favorite recipe of recent times...

Thai-Style Steamed Mussels with Coconut Milk & Basil
Serves 2 people
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Gluten-free; dairy-free
Print Recipe

  • 1 1/2 pounds black mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 cups Trippel Belgium Style Ale
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes (to taste)
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallot and saute until almost tender (about 4 minutes).
  3. Next, add the ginger, chili flakes, and lime zest, sauteing for another minute until fragrant. 
  4. Add the beer and simmer for a few minutes, until slightly reduced.
  5. Place the mussels in the pan, cover, and steam, shaking the pan occasionally until they're just beginning to open (about 4 minutes).
  6. Stir in the coconut milk and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking the mussels with the cover on until all of them have opened. 
  7. Check the seasoning (salt and pepper) and garnish with the lime juice, lime wedges, and basil. 
  8. Serve family style with crusty bread and cold bottles of Trippel Belgium Style Ale. Enjoy!
Source for Ingredients
  • black mussels, Trippel Belgium Style Ale, organic basil, organic limes, and organic chili flakes from Whole Foods
  • ginger and shallots from West Hollywood Farmers Market
  • organic coconut milk from Trader Joe's
  • organic coconut oil from Kelapo

Disclaimer: This recipe was created as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program in partnership with New Belgium Brewing Company. Compensation was received to pay for some ingredients, and Kelapo provided samples of their coconut oil.


  1. Wow, this sounds DELICIOUS! Reminds me a little of a coconut based mussels I had at Street that were amazing. Can't wait to try it out. :)

  2. Mussels + Coconut = Amazing!

    We were slurping our bowls by the end. I was a little nervous about steaming them in the beer, but it worked perfectly. And is super easy to make. I can't wait to do it again...

    If you cook them, let me know how it turns out!