For the chile paste
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. cilantro
- 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp. chopped shallot
- 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. pickled ginger
- 1 tbsp. Thai sweet chili sauce
- 5 mild to medium-heat red chiles, halved and seeded
- 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Finely grated zest of 2 limes
- 4 lb. mussels, scrubbed
- 1 1⁄4 cups coconut milk
- 1⁄4 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish
- Bread, for serving
- Make the chile paste: In a food processor, combine the sugar, cilantro, garlic, shallot, pepper, salt, pickled ginger, chili sauce, chiles, lemongrass, and lime zest; process until a paste forms, 1-2 minutes. (Paste can be made ahead and stored in a covered container up to 1 week.)
- Prepare the mussels: In a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat, whisk 1 1⁄2 cups water with 4-5 tablespoons of the prepared paste; bring the liquid to a boil, then add the mussels. Cover the pot and cook until the mussels have opened, about 4 minutes (discard any mussels that do not open).
- Remove from heat and stir in the coconut milk. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve immediately with bread for dipping.
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