I’m on a mission to get people to make and enjoy mussels at home. Mussels are sustainable, economical, and an effortless way to add drama and sophistication to any gathering. There’s no reason to save these for a special restaurant meal. These Vietnamese Mussels are part of my game plan; once you see how easy they are to prepare you’ll be making them over and over to impress guests.
What Makes these Mussels Vietnamese?
While at first glance these mussels may seem like something you would order in a French bistro- a pile of gleaming mollusks in a wine based broth, these beauties take a tour through Vietnam. Lemongrass, fish sauce, and a shower of fresh herbs, the trifecta of Vietnamese flavors, all make an appearance here. A garnish of crunchy fried shallots seal the deal.
Making Vietnamese Mussels
I start by soaking the mussels in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes. This helps them expel sand so they won’t be gritty. Then I thoroughly rinse them under running water. I also remove any long hair-life strands attached to the shell, known as the beard. Some may not have beards at all. Removing them is easy, just grab and pull.
Now it’s time to prep the aromatics-the lemongrass, garlic, chili, and onion.
I use the flat side of the blade to roughly smash the garlic cloves.
I love to use frozen, chopped lemongrass. It’s one of the most convenient of convenience products. It can be found in the freezer section of well stocked Asian stores. Pop it in the freezer and then just scoop out a tablespoon or two whenever you need it. If you are using fresh lemongrass, I show you how to prep it here. I like to put chopped chilis, garlic, and lemongrass in a small bowl so I have it handy when it’s time to add to the pot.
Now that everything is prepped and within reach, it’s time to cook.
Stir again and cook for a couple minutes more, until all of the mussels open. (Discard any that don’t.) Taste the broth to see if it needs any more salt, it should be deeply flavorful. Then stir in the butter for a little added richness, and top with the herbs-I like a mix, and the fried shallots.
You can serve these right from the pot, or pile them onto a platter, or portion them out for your guests. Make sure to include plenty of that glorious liquid!
Vietnamese Mussels are a perfect holiday party starter alongside a batch of Yuzu Margaritas! Make a batch and let me know what you think. Comment on the recipe or tag us @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 2 lemongrass stalks or 2 Tablespoons chopped lemongrass
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- ½ large yellow onion
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2.5 lbs mussels
- 1 ½ cups crisp white wine (like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio)
- 2–3 bird’s-eye chili, thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons cold butter cut into cubes
- ½ cup (small handful) Thai basil leaves, cilantro, mint, or any combination roughly chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fried shallots (optional)
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Put the mussels in a large colander and rinse under running water.
- Pull any pieces of beard (the long hair like strands attached to the shell) off and set aside to drain.
- Cut the onion into thin slices and set aside.
- Wash the lemongrass stalks.
- Smash them lightly with a wooden spoon or the side of your knife.
- Cut off the top half and discard. Then slice the stalks into ½ inch pieces. (You can also use frozen chopped lemongrass if you prefer.)
- Next smack the garlic cloves with the knife or spoon to smash them roughly.
- Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat for several minutes and add the oil, and onions.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes until slightly softened.
- Add the lemongrass, chiles, and garlic. Sauté briefly until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
- Add the mussels, fish sauce, ground black pepper, and wine.
- Stir the contents of the pot, cover with a lid, and steam until the mussels start to open, about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir the clams again, cover with the lid, and continue cooking until all of the mussels pop open, about 2-3 minutes. (If you still have 1 or 2 mussels that have not opened after all of the rest are open, discard them).
- Taste a little of the broth to measure saltiness and add a little salt as needed.
- Turn off the heat and add the butter, fried shallots, and the herbs.
- Stir again. Transfer to a deep serving platter or just serve the Vietnamese Mussels out of the pot and serve immediately.
Keywords: mussels, vietnamese, lemongrass, fish sauce, party food, appetizers, holiday, starters