Mussels in a coconut and beer broth

This delicious bowl of mussels makes the perfect winter warmer.
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Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter

*1 kg fresh mussels
*20g unsalted butter
*2 tbsp olive oil
*2 cloves garlic, chopped
*1 small red chilli, finely chopped
*1 long green chilli, thinly sliced
*1 stick lemon grass
*1 Lebanese/Asian or Chinese aubergine (long and thin), cut in half lengthways and sliced
*2.5 cm piece of ginger, peeled
*75g peas
*6 kaffir lime leaves, stalk removed and thinly sliced
*235ml coconut milk
*330ml Belgian-style wheat beer
*60ml creamed coconut
*1 tsp fish sauce
*1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped

1.Clean and de-beard the mussels discarding any with broken shells, set the rest aside in a colander.
2. In a pot large enough to hold the mussels on medium heat, add 1 tbsp oil. When the oil is hot, add half of the chopped garlic and the red chilli and cook for a minute or two, stirring and being careful not to burn the garlic. Turn the heat to high and add the mussels to the pot then one third of the bottle of beer. Put a lid on the pot and bring the beer to a boil.

3.Cook the mussels until they are all open, approx 3–5 minutes, shaking the pot vigorously to tumble the mussels. Resist the urge to take a peek by lifting the lid, as you will let the steam out of the pot and slow down the cooking process.
4. When lots of steam starts to push its way through the lid, the mussels will be done. When all or most of the mussels have opened, remove pot from the heat and pour the mussels into a colander above a large mixing bowl to capture the cooking liquid.
5. Put the pot back on the heat, add the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the butter foams, add the rest of the garlic and the green chilli and stir. With the flat of your kitchen knife or palm of your hand smash the peeled ginger so that it is squashed and falls into chunks. Add this to the pot. Peel away the tough outer layers of the lemon grass stalk to reveal the pale lower section of the stem.

6. Use a sharp knife to trim the base.  Cut the stalk into four pieces, then smash the stem with the flat side of a knife to bruise and release the flavour.  Add to the pot. Add the aubergine to the pot along with the peas and the kaffir lime leaves. Stir well and cook until the aubergine has softened, about five minutes.
7. Add half of the remaining beer, the coconut milk, coconut cream and fish sauce and bring to the boil.  Remove the colander with the mussels from the large mixing bowl and set aside.

8. Strain the cooking liquid from the mussels through a fine sieve to remove any dirt, grit or bits of shell and then add the liquor back into the pot, bring it to the boil, and turn the heat down a little so that it can simmer for a couple of minutes.  Return the mussels to the pot and stir through so the hot liquid gets into the shells. Simmer for two minutes.
9. Divide the mussels and sauce equally into two large bowls and garnish with some freshly chopped coriander.

More from The Beer & Food Companion: The Beer & Food Companion by Stephen Beaumont is published by Jacqui Small, £25.

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