Ever notice that special dish or two on your favorite non-Asian restaurant’s menu that you can’t quite order at a straight ahead, traditional Asian joint? “Asian Persuasion” is a once-in-a-while segment highlighting those chefs and restaurants that don’t specialize in Asian cuisine but occasionally dabble in cooking influenced by Far Eastern foods. But please don’t say fusion. Oh, no. Instead, let’s call it an Asian Persuasion. Doesn’t that sit better on the palate? Plus it rhymes.
One of my favorite creations at chef David LeFevre’s M.B. Post down in Manhattan Beach—besides the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuit—is his über-aromatic, zesty, spicy green curry mussel served in a manly cast iron pot. (LeFevre, of course, earned major cred for his time spent cooking at the Water Grill, so seafood is second nature to him.)
PEI black mussels are quickly steamed within the curry sauce, taking in all the robust flavors like a well-behaved filter feeder should. Opening the lid, the unleashed steam hits you with just about every scent from each of the fresh ingredients: cilantro, lime juice, kaffir leaves, Thai chiles, and the green curry. However, the Asian component of this shellfish dish that I appreciate most is the lap cheong, aka Chinese sausage. The thin, firm slices of sweet, fatty lap cheong are rendered, igniting all of their flavor and intermingling perfectly with the green curry paste that’s toasted beside them.
LeFevre’s green curry mussels are also served with a fist-sized mound of steamed cilantro rice that sops up the sauce like a famished loofah. This whirling Dervish of a dish is a standout and playfully works in a vibrant assortment of tastes—from the pungent fish sauce and salty shrimp paste to the tangy, just-squeezed lime juice and fiery Thai chiles. But, for me, it’s the distinct sweetness from the lap cheong that puts this delicious M.B. Post plate squarely in the Asian Persuasion corner.