Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Moules Provencales (Mussels Steamed in White Wine)

Mussels were on sale at the market today and I have been wanting to try making them at home for a long, long time so I decided to go for it. When I got home I did some extensive 'net research to ensure I prepared the mussels in the healthiest and most sanitary way possible. One of the things I came across was this hilarious YouTube video of a French Chef preparing "Moules Provencales". I based this recipe on his tutorial and it turned out great.

The video is here.

extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced (THE MORE THE BETTER!)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup white wine
1 to 1.5kg (3 lb) live mussels, washed and beards removed
2-4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, or 1 fresh tomato, seeded and diced
sea salt & fresh cracked pepper

1. Here is a great article on picking, storing and preparing mussels. If you are not already familiar with mussels, make sure you read up before you begin.

2. Keep mussels refrigerated until ready to use. When ready to cook, pick through your mussels to ensure all are tightly closed. If any are open, follow Chef Jean Pierre's instructions in the video above and lightly tap on the shells and set aside for a few minutes. I found almost all of mine closed after this "tapping" process. Out of the whole batch, I only had to throw out three, two of which had broken shells. The rest were perfectly fine after a bit of tapping and resting - as Chef Jean Pierre said, they really were just sleeping with their mouths open. :)

3. Place mussels in a colander and rinse under cold water. Remove beards (if they are present - mine didn't have beards) and scrub off any barnacles or grit. Mine were "cultivated", or "rope grown" so the shells were very smooth and clean. Wild mussels will likely need a bit of gentle scrubbing.

4. While mussels are resting in the colander, heat olive oil in a saute pan (with a lid) over medium heat. Add onions and sweat for a minute or two then add garlic. Stir until onions turn transcendent.

5. Pour in wine and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Now, as Chef Jean Pierre said, CRANK UP THE HEAT and pour in the mussels. Immediately put the lid on the pan and gently shake the pan a bit. Watch the clock. Two minutes was the perfect amount of time for my mussels, which is just about when the steam started to come out of the pan.

6. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove mussels from the pan and place into a covered serving dish. Gently sort through mussels and discard any that did not open (they only need to open 1 cm, minimum).

7. Strain cooking juices into a bowl. Take the strained liquid and pour back into the saute pan. Discard the onion/garlic mixture. If a few onions sneak into the juices, that's a-okay.

8. Turn the heat to medium and simmer the wine for minute. Add the butter and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Let reduce for about 5 minutes. Add parsley, sea salt and cracked pepper and stir together.

9. Pour liquid over the mussels. Serve with crusty bread for dipping into the juice!

A+ - This is definitely a fave. I shared the dish with my mom for dinner. Between the mussels and half a baguette, it was all the food we needed.


  1. Oh, I love good mussels. I've never been brave enough to give them a go on my own though. Good on you for doing so!

  2. I'm going to give this a try! I'm married to a Canadian (Nova Scotia) and he introduced me to mussels. The best ones I've ever had where at a restaurant somewhere between Mahone Bay and Lunenberg and this recipe looks very close to those.


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