Moules mariniere

I am obviously a crazy person which is why I have not cooked mussels before. I often order a pot of mussels at a restaurant and I can still vividly remember the first time I ever had mussels at a seafront restaurant in Wellington, New Zealand (they are a local specialty there and every restaurant serves them). I can recall marvelling at the large pot that came to the table and revelling in the process of digging out the tasty morsels, building up a pile of shells by each elbow and then sopping up the juices with some crusty bread.

So, I knew that I liked mussels. What I didn’t know was that mussels are very environmentally friendly, they are also super cheap and finally (but probably most importantly) they are ridiculously easy to cook. You can certainly make some intricate and complicated dishes using mussels but often simple is best and this recipe for moules mariniere could not be simpler or quicker. Trust me when I say the entire preparation and cooking time will be 20 minutes at the most. Now I will just go back to kicking myself for not having cooked mussels before now.
1 kg mussels
1 shallot finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
75ml white wine
Handful of fresh parsley chopped
Olive oil
1. Clean and debeard the mussels under running water. The beard is the hair like strands hanging out of the shell, a sharp tug downwards usually gets rid of it. If any mussels are opened, tap them lightly and if they don’t close then discard them.
2. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft but not browned.
3. Add the wine to the pan and boil on high heat for a minute to burn off the alcohol.
4. Add the mussels to the pan and cover the saucepan with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes,
giving the pan a shake from time to time.
5. The mussels are cooked when they are opened. Remove the mussels with tongs and place in a serving bowl. If any mussels are still unopened give them another minute in the saucepan on the heat but discard any that fail to open.
6. Pour the cooking liquid over the mussels and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with crusty bread.
Tip: You should always eat mussels on the day you buy them.
Serves two.
Adapted from a recipe from the brilliant, almost bible like book by Stephanie Alexander The Cook’s Companion: The Complete Book of Ingredients and Recipes for the Australian Kitchen.
If you liked this and you are in the mood for seafood why not try this recipe for Salmon fillet with a Japanese twist or if you are looking for a cheap and quick meal Farfalle with peas and prosciutto also fits the bill.


  1. I’ve never eaten New Zealand mussels in New Zealand but I have had them before and they were really good, so fat and juicy.

    I love the classic moules mariniere but I also like the same dish with spaghetti too.

  2. I, too, love that mussels are cheap and easy to cook. That said, the time-consuming part is making sure you’ve rinsed out all the grit before adding it to your butter-shallot-wine goodness.

  3. They are ridiculously cheap, aren’t they? I also like them with a light tomato sauce, and a Thai green curry sauce is also nice and different.

  4. Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential has quite a lot to say about Mussels served in restaurants. I’m historically not a massive fan of mussels, which is ironic as the main benefit of living where I do on the coast in Leigh-on-Sea is an abundance of fresh shellfish – I may have to try them again soon and see if they’re more to my liking nowadays. I’m finding a lot of stuff I used to dislike, as Ive got older – I now like.

  5. I adore mussels and have very happy memories of summer holidays in France, eating heaped platefuls accompanied by salty, delicious frites. New Zealand mussels are incredible, huge, tasty and fantastic slathered in garlic butter. Great post!

  6. One of my top 5 favorite seafoods, I’m glad they worked out well on your first attempt! Cheers!

  7. agreed that cleaning them is a bit of a btch especially if you buy them with their barnacles still attached… They make good stock as well if you plan to make a more elaborate sauce 🙂

  8. Dinner Diary – Doesn’t everything taste better with spaghetti?

    American in London – maybe mine were particularly clean mussels – not too hard to clean – thanks Waitrose

    Lizzie – Thai Green curry sauce sounds brilliant

    Dan – I have read Kitchen Confidential as well and it has put me off a lot of things (includings “specials” in cheaper restaurants) but not mussels so far…

    Eatersregret – Belgium is also great for mussels

    Heidi – what are the other 4?

    Genuiness – Good idea I have a fish soup recipe that needs a seafood stock.

  9. Moules & frites is one of my all-time favourite cheap treats at home. If yuo buy ones that are already cleaned & de-bearded they are ridiculously simple to make. And how often these days do you discover that something you love is actually NOT on the verge of extinction?!

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