Moules Marinière (Mussels with Garlic and Parsley) is French fast food at its best. Deliciously ready in 25 minutes.
How to buy mussels?
Fresh. Yes, walk right past the frozen seafood section. Although it works for a lot of seafood, like shrimp, fish, etc, frozen mussels just won’t do the trick. They lose their delicate flavor and texture, and turn into an inner tube. So buy them fresh. Your grocery store most likely sells fresh farmed mussels.
Where we live, we can buy year-round fresh, organic, farmed mussels from P.E.I. (Prince Edward Island). They’re reasonably priced, sustainably grown, and very clean. They’re grown along ropes (wild ones live on the seafloor) and are basically sand free. Some might still have a little beard sticking out. If so, hold the mussel in one hand and quickly pull the beard out. Next, put them in a colander, rinse with cold water, and throw away any mussels that are open (even partially) or have a cracked shell.
Some people use the tapping trick for mussels that are only slightly open. Tap the slightly open mussel on a hard surface and see if it shuts tight quickly. If so, it should still be good. I don’t do that. I don’t like the term “should be good” when it comes to food, especially seafood.
Note: When you work with live mussels, remember this: Any open mussels before cooking, throw out. Any closed mussels after cooking, throw out.
If you are conscious about the sustainability of the food you are cooking (and we should be), I have good news. According to seafoodwatch.org, farmed mussels are one of the most sustainable seafood purchases you can make.
How to cook mussels?
Fast. To get you started with using fresh mussels, first learn the basic recipe of how to cook mussels. Today, we’re making classic mussels with garlic and parsley in a white wine sauce. It’s quick, easy, and absolutely delicious. If you have a day-old baguette on the kitchen counter, even better. Toast it as dark as you like and use it to mop up the sauce til the last drop.
In France, they call this dish “Moules Marinière’ which translates to “sailor-style mussels.” Isn’t it funny that in Italian “alla marinare,” which would also mean “sailor-style,” has somehow morphed into “tomato-based sauce.” I’m not sure where sailors found tomatoes on the open ocean. If any of you can explain that to me, please do. I grew up in Switzerland with three languages (German, French, Italian – and to be politically correct, Romansh) and it always confuses the heck out of me that the same words can have different meanings in different languages.
Mussels cook fast. So before cranking up the burner, make sure you have all the ingredients chopped and measured and ready to go. It’s the good old mise en place technique that simply makes a lot of sense.
Moules Marinière Preparation
Now we’re ready to go. In a large saucepan with a lid, over medium heat, melt half the butter. Add shallots, leek, garlic, and bay leaves. Stir occasionally until they’re soft but not brown. It took mine about six minutes. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Note: Be careful with the amount of salt you use. Mussels contain their own briny liquid that they’ll release upon opening.
Now, crank up heat to high and add white wine. It’ll sizzle, bubble, and start to evaporate. When the wine has reduced by about half, add mussels, give it a good stir, and put the lid on. Shake the whole pan with the lid on, several times per minute. After a few minutes, check if the mussels have opened. It will only take three to five minutes. As soon as they’re open, transfer to a warm bowl, discard any mussels that haven’t opened, and cover with a lid or foil to keep the mussels warm.
Remove pan from heat, add remaining butter and crème fraîche, and whisk until it has emulsified (FYI, this is the best whisk!). Taste the sauce you just created and season to your liking.
Tip: I recommend removing the indigestible bay leaves before returning cooked mussels to the pot.
Put the mussels back into the pot. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley, and stir.
Serve immediately on warm plates with toasted baguette. Nobody likes cold mussels. Unless you’re a seagull, that is. Don’t forget to spoon over all the remaining sauce in the pot!
Are mussels good for you?
Nope. They’re fantastic for you! According to this wonderful site, here are some nice health benefits:
HIGH PROTEIN AND LOW FAT
Seafood (shellfish in particular) is high in protein and low in fat. This is great news for anyone on a calorie-restricted diet, as it shows it’s possible to enjoy exciting meals that are healthy without sacrificing flavor.
IRON & PROTEIN
For those who enjoy high-protein intake, mussels offer a welcome break from steak. Not only are they better for the environment (as they are ecologically friendly and easy to farm) they also offer levels of protein and iron that rival that of red meat.
HIGH IN VITAMINS A & B12
Vitamin A is excellent for the skin, eyes, and immune system. While B12 is an essential vitamin that only naturally occurs in animal products, B12 deficiency can lead to problems with heart health and anemia, among other complications, and is important for overall health.
IMPROVES BRAIN FUNCTION
Mussels contribute to circulatory health and energy levels. Are brilliant for improving brain function and reducing inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
The heart benefits from a reduction in the risk of heart attack due to those all-important Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are vital, and have all sorts of health benefits that should not be overlooked.
Love seafood? Check out more of our seafood recipes now:
- Candy From the Sea – Perfectly Cooked Scallops, Every Time
- The Perfect Triumvirate: Salmon, Asparagus, and Hollandaise Sauce
- Super Easy Oven-Baked Cod
- Crab Mac & Cheese
- 6 Easy Last-Minute Seafood Dinner Ideas
- Super Easy Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil that You’ll Make Over and Over Again
- Snappy Shrimp, Hot Pepper Flakes, and Garlic Breath
- Ceviche – A Fancy, Expensive Seafood Dish Made Easy at Home?
- Shrimp Tacos with Avocado, Grapefruit, and Creamy Cilantro Sauce
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Moules Marinière (Mussels with Garlic and Parsley)
- 2 lbs fresh mussels, cleaned
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 Tbsp leek, sliced
- 2 Tbsp shallot, sliced
- 1 Tbsp garlic, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 c dry white wine
- 3 Tbsp crème fraîche (or heavy cream)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 4 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves, minced
- French baguette (optional)
- In a large saucepan with a lid, over medium heat, melt half the butter
- Add shallots, leek, garlic, and bay leaves
- Stir occasionally until vegetables are soft but not brown (about 6 minutes)
- Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper
- Crank up heat to high and add white wine
- When the wine has reduced by about half, add mussels, give it a good stir, and put the lid on
- Shake the whole pan with a lid on, several times per minute. After a few minutes, check if the mussels have opened. It will only take three to five minutes.
- As soon as they’re open, transfer to a warm bowl and cover with a lid or foil to keep mussels warm
- Remove pan from heat, add remaining butter and crème fraîche, and whisk until it has emulsified. Taste the sauce you just created and season to your liking.
- Put the mussels back into the pot
- Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley, and stir
- Serve immediately on warm plates with toasted baguette. Don’t forget to spoon over all the remaining sauce in the pot!
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