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January 2011 Issue
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Thai style green-lipped mussels

Thai style green-lipped mussels

There are many reasons why Aoteoroa is a great place to live… one often forgotten one is the endemic green-lipped mussel. These tasty little morsels are found around most coastlines, usually just below the low tide mark within easy reach of anyone prepared to roll their trousers up a bit.

For the human-powered adventurer this is great news. For the weight of a bag of rice and a few herbs and spices you can provide a meal that’d be fit for the finest Auckland restaurants – with a far better view!

Serves: Two people

Weight: 350g

Volume:  0.5L (not including the mussels)

Energy: 1750 calories

Cost: $7.30

Preparation time: About 30 minutes

Fuel: 100ml white spirit, or 50g camping gas*

*Based on an MSR Whisperlite burning white spirit at sea level.


  • 1kg fresh mussels
  • 50g coconut cream powder
  • 100ml oil
  • 60g vermicelli noodles
  • 1 whole chilli
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 handful fresh coriander leaves
  • 15g Thai seasoning powder*

(*This is really just a mix of ginger, lemongrass, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic and chilli – if you’re cooking this at home you might like to use fresh ingredients, but in the field use the pre-made version.)

Special utensils

  • 1 big-ish pot with a tight-fitting lid
  • 1 small fry-pan


Soak the mussels in cold salt water for half an hour before cooking to filter out any sand and then give them a quick clean to scrub off the barnacles. If any of them are broken, or don’t close when tapped sharply – toss them back for the fishes.

Bring the oil up to temperature in the small fry pan then toss in the uncooked vermicelli noodles and stir until they are completely puffed. Drain on paper towel and set aside.

Add water to the coconut cream, as per the instructions, mix in the Thai seasoning and gently warm in the small frypan (drain off the oil first!) then cover to retain the heat and set aside.

Place the mussels in a big pot and add a cup of water (or white wine if you can spare it) and steam on high heat for approximately five minutes, removing the mussels as they open. Again, any that don’t open, are best tossed back for the fishes.

Remove one side of the shells, add a teaspoon of the coconut cream and herb mix then serve immediately with some finely sliced chilli, spring onions and coriander leaves to garnish.