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Recipe by Eric Bauer, executive chef, Anthology.

I have cooked ever since I was little with my mom and grandmother. They are both Swedish, so we had a lot of Swedish meatballs and pancakes for dinner. There was always something going on in the kitchen at home. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and a great cook, so it was always home for dinner at 5:30. I really liked our family dinners. It’s, like, anything that is consistent and constant is always appealing. It really forged my relationship with my family.

For the restaurant, I tend to shop at the local farmers’ markets in Little Italy. I’m a big shopper because we change our menu often. I’m about to try out some fresh jalapeño juice for a jalapeño gelee to go on a pork dish. I’ll pair it with corn. I’m always planning and looking to the future. It’s what’s great about working with the guys who are picking these vegetables out of the ground with their own hands. They tell me exactly when things are going to be in their prime. If it’s not available from the farmers, it’s not on the menu.

When I’m not working, I love to go see what other people are doing. I eat out quite a bit. When I cook at home it’s the little things. Like, oatmeal in the morning. My girlfriend and I love cheese and I’ll bring home something amazing from Cow Girl Creamery and we’ll crack a baguette. If I have friends coming over we go all-out. But, still, I’m simple. I’m a Midwestern boy. An organic pork chop and a baked potato and steamed vegetables. I don’t go too crazy at home. That’s my job. And being simple means less cleanup. I don’t like the cleanup.

INGREDIENTS

(serves 4)

  • 2 lbs fresh black mussels — about 32 (I use Carlsbad Aquafarm mussels)
  • 4 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 small yellow onion (minced)
  • 1 Thai red chili (seeds removed and minced)
  • 3 shiitake mushrooms, sliced and stems removed (I use Temecula Mushroom Farm’s mushrooms)
  • 1/2 each yellow, green, and red pepper (finely diced)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (smashed and halved lengthwise)
  • 2 tsp grated lime zest (I use Schaner Farms kaffir lime zest)
  • 3 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 1/4 cup Mirin (rice cooking wine)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, minced

HOW TO DO IT

Scrub the mussels under running water to remove sand and dirt. Discard any mussels that are already open. Next, bring a large sauté pan to medium-high heat and add the oil. When the pan is hot, add the onion, red chili, mushrooms, and peppers. Cook on medium heat until the onion is translucent and mushrooms have colored a little bit. Add the lemongrass, lime zest, and curry paste and cook for another couple of minutes to release the flavors and to cook out the curry paste.

Deglaze the pan with the Mirin and white wine. Bring to a boil. Add the coconut milk and Thai fish sauce and lower the heat to a simmer. Add the mussels, salt, and minced cilantro and cover the sauté pan with a lid. Cook for approximately three to five minutes or until the mussels have just opened. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Garnish with some sprigs or leaves of cilantro. Serve as is or with steamed white rice. Enjoy!

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