Making coconut cream and milk is easy – and the taste difference between fresh and canned is huge. If you don't have time to make your own, buy a good brand of coconut milk (such as Ayam) where the thick coconut cream settles at the top of the can and use that to fry the paste.
1 cup coconut milk
Pinch castor sugar
1kg Blue Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 lime, juiced, plus extra for serving
Steamed jasmine rice, for serving
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4cm knob ginger, chopped
2 medium red chillies, seeded and chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
4 red shallots, chopped (see notes)
2.5cm piece turmeric, grated
Make Spice Paste: place garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass, shallot and turmeric into a food processor and blend into a paste, adding a little thick coconut milk if necessary to help it blend.
Heat 2 tablespoons of thick coconut milk in a wok, add Spice Paste and cook for about 5 minutes, until aromatic and oily. Add sugar and remaining coconut milk and bring to the boil. Add Mussels, cover and cook for a minute or 2, until shells start to open. As each shell opens remove it to a large serving bowl. When all Mussels have opened, stir fish sauce and lime juice through the sauce, pour over Mussels and serve with rice.
If red shallots are unavailable, use 2 large golden shallots or 1 small red onion.