I went out to eat with my family recently and ordered seafood paella. My mouth was watering in anticipation of this delightful, multi-layered seafood dish. When I received my dish it was so bland! It was packed with seafood but so bland! It was such a disappointment, none of the flavors were strong enough to compliment the seafood. I then leaned over to my husband and whispered, “I can make this dish and make it better”. So I did!
This coconut curry seafood dish is my take on seafood paella. It’s seasoned perfectly with onions, scallions, sweet peppers, fresh thyme, garlic, ginger and some hot pepper. I make the coconut broth even richer by adding a little soy sauce and red curry paste.
Let’s talk seafood
For this dish, I’m using clams, mussels and shrimps. I purchased all my seafood from the fish market in my local grocery store. For shrimp, I’m using wild-caught Key West large shrimp because I love how thick and sweet they are. I cleaned them up, removing the vein and leaving the tip of the tail on for easy eating.
I buy my clams and mussels live and fresh. I like to buy them individually so that I can have my fish guy inspect each one for freshness. Closed shells are a sign of freshness. If you’re new to mussels then start with the smaller ones. They’re more common, easier to clean and are less fishy in flavor. I stay away from pre-packaged clams or mussels because I can’t inspect them for freshness before buying.
Both clams and mussels are not overpowering in taste, but are chewy and can get rubbery if overcooked. Be alert as these shellfish cook up in no time, around 4-5 minutes.
How to clean Clams and Mussels
Typically, clams and mussels have gone through some cleaning by the time you purchase. However, you do want to make sure they’re done properly by ensuring the shells are free of barnacles and washing to remove sand. You also need to remove the “beard” from the mussels before cooking. If they’re not cleaned properly, you run the risk of sand being released when cooked. To clean, you want to
- Rinse shellfish under cold running water to remove loose sediment, remove any open shells.
- Transfer shellfish to a large pot of cold salted water to keep them alive and fresh as possible before cooking.
- Just before cooking, lift the shellfish out of the cold water by hand, so that any remaining sediment is left at the bottom of the pot.
- Mussels “beards,” should be pinched off.
Once you have your seafood prepared, you’re ready to cook. It all starts with the broth, then the addition rice for a slow simmer and in no time this coconut curry seafood rice is ready. Below are ingredients and instructions. What’s your favorite way to eat seafood? Share and comment below.
Coconut Curry Seafood Paella
- Wide-pan or Paella pan
- 2 lbs. Mussels -see instructions to clean
- 8-10 Small-med Clams -see instructions to clean
- 8-10 Large Shrimps-cleaned, de-veined and tail on
- 1-2 Tbsp Curry powder
- 2 Tbsp Red curry paste
- 2 Tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 Small Sweet peppers -chopped
- 2 Stalks Scallions -chopped
- 1 Small Onion -chopped
- 1 Small Scotch bonnet -finely chopped (see note)
- 1-2 Sprigs Fresh thyme
- 2 Cloves Garlic -grated
- 1 Tbsp Fresh ginger -grated
- 1 Can Coconut milk -no guar gum (see note)
- 2 Tbsp Fish sauce or soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Fresh lime juice
- 2 Cups Long-grain white rice -rinsed
- Salt to taste
- Heat coconut oil in a wide pan or paella pan to medium heat.
- Saute sweet peppers, onion, scallions until translucent and soft about 4 minutes.
- Add curry paste, curry powder, garlic, ginger and cook for another minute before adding coconut milk, fish sauce or soy sauce, lime juice and bring to a boil.
- Add shrimp, mussels, clams to the broth (disregard any clams or mussels that are open prior to cooking). Give it a quick stir. Cover and let the seafood steam until the clams and mussels open. About 5 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to loosen the seafood as they open.
- Uncover seafood and transfer to a bowl while you cook rice in the broth. Discard any unopened clams or mussels as you transfer the seafood.
- To the broth add rinsed rice, stir, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is tender and has absorbed all the broth. Cook for about 20 minutes. Check frequently until rice is almost cooked.
- About 5 minutes before rice is completely cooked, add back shrimp, clams and mussels to pan. Lodge the shellfish into the rice mixture so they cook with rice for the last few minutes.
- Remove from heat, fluff rich and seafood before serving; serve with lime wedges and fresh chopped scallions.
- Leave out the scotch bonnet if you don’t want the heat. You can add black pepper instead.
- I used coconut milk without guar gum because this is the closest to creating my own coconut milk from scratch. I also find that canned coconut milk with guar gum leaves me with an upset stomach.