Some years ago, a friend of mine asked if I could come up with a South East Asian style tapas dish for a charity event he was holding. As I was due to fly out to Israel first thing the next morning, I had to keep it really, really quick and easy – and Kupang Masak Lemak was the result! I gave it a Malay name, just for the fun of it!
I have since made these mussels many, many times, it’s very light yet packs a full flavour profile. Some crusty bread on the side to mop up all that lovely sauce is a must! But if you fancy rice, that’ll be just as perfect!
The spices used are your standard South East Asian. If you have trouble getting the galangal, lemongrass or lime leaves, leave them out, you will still get a wonderful dish. Click on the aromatics above to read more about them.
Malay Language Lesson:
Kupang – Mussels
Masak – Cook
Lemak – Cream, ie the coconut milk
- 1 kg (just over 2 lb) mussels, scrubbed and cleaned
- 1Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 fresh chilli
- 2.5 cm (1") ginger
- 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
- 1cm (about half in) galangal
- 200 ml (4/5 cup) coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- juice of half a lime
- 3 fresh kaffir lime leaves, optional
- small handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
- Check your mussels - if any of them are open, give them a hard tap. If they close, they're fine, if they don't, they're dead, so sling them.
- Pound or finely chop the garlic, chilli, ginger and galangal.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion slices, the lemongrass & the pounded ingredients, stirring and cooking for a minute, you'll get a lovely aroma at this stage.
- Pour the coconut milk in, add the soy sauce and lime leaves too. Stir it all in.
- Add the mussels in, give them a very quick stir, cover & leave to steam on the same heat for about 3-4 minutes, giving it a shake or two during this time. At the end of the 3-4 minutes, they will be done. If any of them are still closed, throw them out.
- Tip everything onto a warm serving platter, squeeze the lime juice all over, scatter with the fresh coriander and serve immediately.