Thai Style Mussels in a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins


  • 1 lb mussels cleaned and debearded
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste ** see notes for substitution
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek ** see notes for substitution
  • 1 lime juiced
  • pinch salt if desired
  • paprika, sesame seeds, cilantro, greek yogurt, and lime wedges to garnish


  1. Clean and debeard your mussels and discard any that have opened significantly as they may be dead.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat, add your garlic clove and tomato paste and cook until the fragrance has "bloomed" meaning you can smell a bit of the garlic.
  3. Whisk in your light coconut milk and sambal oelek. The sauce should be about the color of reddish orange as in the photos. If not, add additional tomato paste. If you don't like super spicy dishes, reduce the sambal down to half.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and bring to simmer. Let simmer for roughly 10 minutes so that the flavors have a chance to meld together. Whisk in your lime juice and continue to simmer.
  5. Add salt if desired.
  6. Bring the pot up to medium high heat and add your mussels. They should take about 4-6 minutes to cook. You will know they are cooked when the shells open up completely. If the shells do not open, discard those mussels as they are likely not fit for eating.
  7. Ladel into a wide-rimmed bowl and garnish as you desire. Serve with warm garlic naan.

Recipe Notes

** If you cannot find sambal oelek or don't want to buy it, you can replace with equal parts siracha. Traditionally the recipe would call for 1 TBSP of thai red curry paste in lieu of the tomato paste and the sambal.