When it comes to fresh mussels, one really doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Thus, I’m sharing what I feel is the only mussel recipe you’ll ever need – classic Moules Marinières.

Essentially the holy grail of mollusc-based dishes, Moules Marinières is at heart a combination of shallot, butter and white wine as a base in which to steam live mussels in. While not averse to adding cream, celery and garlic, the aforementioned triumvirate is all one needs when cooking beautifully fresh mussels. Served with thin fries in Belgium and crusty bread in France, I’m happy either way as long as there is lots of verdantly fresh parsley scattered over the top.

While I’ve included many mussel recipes on my blog, this one is the easiest and most approachable version – especially if one hasn’t worked with live mussels before. If you are in the mood for something alternative, I’ve provided some other recipes of mine below:

Mussels with Parmesan & Thyme

Mussels with Leeks & Bacon

Mussels with Fennel & Chicken Stock

Mussels in Salsa Verde

Mussels with Citrus, Paprika & Chorizo

Working with farmed mussels is an absolute pleasure, as there is no need to purge or scrub the mussels beforehand. Simply remove from their packaging, rinse under cold running water and remove the beard – the weedy tangle mussels use to tether themselves to rocks. This latter step is easily achieved by taking hold of the beard and giving it a firm tug across the length of the shell. It should come away relatively easily, although this job can require some perseverance. Discard any mussels that don’t close when tapped sharply on the shell, as they are no longer alive. Store the cleaned mussels in a large bowl in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Classic Moules Marinières

Prep time: 15 mins /Cook time: 15 mins /Serves: 2

  • 2 kilograms of fresh Mediterranean mussels, cleaned
  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and finely diced
  • 30ml olive oil or butter, for frying
  • 3-4 celery sticks, washed and thinly sliced 
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 250ml fresh cream
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

Use a large stove-proof casserole with a lid for this recipe, as it makes steaming the mussels in the sauce an easier task.

Place the casserole dish over medium heat and sauté the shallot and in the olive oil or butter until soft. Add in the celery and garlic and sauté for a further 3 minutes. Deglaze the casserole with the white wine and reduce by half. Add the cream and season to taste, going easy on the salt. Reduce for a further 5 minutes and add in the mussels – their liquid will loosen up the sauce again. Cover the casserole with its lid and steam the mussels for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened – being sure to discard any that haven’t unless you’re sure of the origin and freshness of the mussels. If they’re very fresh and have opened a crack, simply work the shell wider with the tip of a butter knife. 

Stir the mussels through the sauce and scatter over the chopped parsley. Serve the mussels immediately with lemon wedges and fresh crusty bread to mop up the sauce.


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