Saturday, March 15, 2008

Express Food: Mussels in Tom Yum Soup

Thai Mussels are far different than that of farmed ones off the Scottish Coast or the French Waterways. Contrary to which, in England, many of these mussels are farmed near fresh waterways which are a reason of the white flesh compared to the crimson orange flesh found in the Thai Mussels.

Contrary to many, the seed mussels are normally smuggled from Malaysia due to the genetic strain that make them grow very big in a short period of time, and it's more fleshy and chewy compared to their smaller European cousin. Wild ones are also found in the market by means of their size being smaller and a whole lot dirtier as they tend to live near muddy delta or mouth of the river leading to the sea as they get plenty of nutrients from the mud and sludge discharged up river.

One recipe that people don't try in London is Tom Yam based soup with purely mussels to it. It's quite straight forward , which I found them very popular near Songkha and Pattani regions and eaten / drank with either rice noodles or a bowl of rice. Pretty simple to cook but do keep in mind that the preparation is a bit messy.

Tools Needed:

Pair of Scissors
Short Knife
Large Wok / POT (Stock Pot preferred)
Large Strainer


Lemon Grass (2 stalks)
Kafir Lime Leaves (3 - 4 leaves)
Small Lime ( a few )
Onions (3 Large ones, Sliced/chopped)
Shallots ( a handful, chopped)
Garlic (half a clove)
Some cooking oil
TOM YAM PASTE (I'll give you the recipe if you want to make it on your own)

Rice, cook to your preference .Easiest is to rinse TWICE and cook in a Rice cooker with 1:1 ratio (well a tiny bit more water is OK) till it raised up. A cup of rice feeds 2 persons.

Fresh Live Mussels (a KG or 2, which becomes about a pint of flesh for every 2 KG)

Preparation Step:
RINSE THE MUSSELS THOROUGHLY!Dunk them in your sink and rinse a few time to get any river sediments trapped in between out. Soak them in your basin with SALT WATER. This allows you to know if there are any dead ones about. Discard the dead ones.

Pull , Yank and Snip off any green string (kelp etc) attached to the mussels.

Slice and dice the onions,shallots,garlic. Use a cleaver. It's simpler.
Smack the base of the Lemon Grass a few times.
Slice some Ginger.

Cooking it:

Drain and Pour the mussels to the stock pot. Place some salt (5 grams) with some onions and garlic with the Ginger in the BASE to get rid of any Organic Odor it might bring back.

Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, till you see the bulk of them open up. That means THEY ARE SEMI COOKED.

SHUT the flame and pour out the Mussels into a drainer. It will make them easier to cook later on. Remove the shells and keep the little bit of the stock base (about a cup) for your tom yam soup.

Souping it:
Saute the chopped garlic,ginger,shallots on about 3 tablespoon of oil over medium heat till slightly brown. Pour in the stock base from the mussels and add more water if necessary.Dunk the Tom Yam Paste (I think it's 3-4 tablespoons for every 500ML, or more to your taste) with the sliced onions and lemon grass and mix them well, with some salt.

Adjust according to your liking.

If you like your mussels shrunk and fully cooked (for Hepatitis B sufferers) please add your mussels to the boiling soup and cover for a minute,then serve. Otherwise, add soup to the bowl of mussels you prepared earlier on.

Then wait for a minute and eat with the rice.

It's making me very hungry right now.
Adapted from Kak Mar's Kitchen at

Time to cook: 5 Minutes!
Time to Prepare: 15-30 minutes

Depending on the condition of the mussels and how fast you do stuff, or if you are a person who don't care much of the cleanliness (like me) will just rinse the mussels twice, Steam the mussels and while it's cooking, make the other tom yam soup by dunking everything in, and pouring the soup (use water) and then pour the whole soup to the mussels, with shells in them. It is actually tastier.It's how I did it in my University Days *(Even while as a Post Grad)

Best regards and good luck.

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