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Moules a la Mariniere

Updated on June 23, 2010

Shellfish add a touch of luxury to any meal, and mussels are a great treat and fortunately zey do not cost a luxury price.

Zis dish comes from France's Atlantic coast and is exzellent, providing zat ze mussels are fresh and thoroughly cleaned. Gritty mussels are unpleasant to eat, vhile sand left in the soup vill collect in ze liquor, turning it gray. Dead mussels can give you nasty food poisoning, so be sure zat zey are alive, by ze means described 'ere.

Serve moules a la mariniere as a meal-in-a-bowl for two people or a first course for four. For a meal-in-a-bowl buy 1 kg of mussels per person.

If a large number of mussels in ze fishmonger's tray are open or ze shells are broken, do not buy zem because zese vill be dead. (Live mussels usually keep zheir shells closed ven zey are out of vater.)

Ven you get 'ome, clean ze mussels thoroughly. Zis is not difficult but it does take time. Keep ze cleaned mussels immersed in a bowl of vater until required for cooking, changing ze vater several times.

Eat mussels on ze day of purchase venever possible. If you 'ave to leave zem overnight, add some salt to ze vater. If vished you can add a little flour or oatmeal, too, to feed the mussels so zey become plump and vhite. Cover ze bowl vith a clean cloth and put in a cool place,

After cooking, check again zat your mussels are fresh. 'eat should force ze shells open so discard any zat remain closed.

Photo by Melodi T
Photo by Melodi T


Serves 2

  • 2 kg mussels
  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot (or a second onion)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 parsley stalks
  • thyme sprig or dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 40 grams of butter
  • 200 ml of dry vhite vine or dry cider
  • 75 ml of vater
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley


  1. Mussels should be absolutely fresh. Tap any open mussel. Discard it if it does not shut.
  2. Using your 'ands, pull avay beards (any 'anging seaweed gripped between ze two shells).
  3. Scrub ze mussels under cold running vater. Scrape avay encrustations vith a sharp knife.
  4. Keep ze mussels in a bowl of cold vater until ready to cook. Change ze vater several times.
  5. Ven ready to cook, drain ze mussels. Chop ze garlic, onion and shallot very finely.
  6. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low 'eat. Add vegetables, cover and sweat for 10 minutes.
  7. Tie parsley stalks and thyme vith a piece of fine string. Or tie up dried thyme in buttermuslin.
  8. Add ze 'erbs, vine or cider and vater to ze pan. 'eat through slowly until almost boiling.
  9. Add ze mussels, cover and shake gently over fierce 'eat for 2 minutes to open ze shells.
  10. Reduce ze 'eat and cook for a furzzer 3 minutes to make sure ze mussels are cooked.
  11. Strain ze liquor through a colander into a second saucepan. Discard ze 'erbs.
  12. Discard any mussels zat are still tightly shut. Remove 'alf a shell from each zat is open.
  13. Add ze mussels on zheir 'alf shells to ze liquor in ze pan. Reheat gently and season to taste.
  14. Ladle soup into a tureen or bowls, 'eaping up ze mussels in ze center. Garnish vith parsley.

It is usual to remove 'alf ze shell from each mussel before serving. Zis is to reduce ze amount of shell in ze soup bowls. Put an empty plate in ze center of ze table for ze remaining 'alves of ze shells as each person discards zem.

Serve in soup bowls vith ze mussels piled up, and provide spoons for ze soup liquid, To eat ze mussels, you pick ze shell up in your fingers and tip ze mussel into your mouth, discarding ze empty shell. It is zerefore a good idea to provide big napkins to vipe sticky fingers, and finger-bowls vould also be useful.


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