Traditional recipes

Snackshot of the Day: Mussels

Snackshot of the Day: Mussels

Photos of all things food and drink from The Daily Meal

Steamed mussels with white wine, garlic, and herbs.

The Daily Meal's editors, contributors, and readers dig into some pretty great restaurants, festivals, and meals. There's not always enough time to give a full review of a restaurant or describe in depth why a place, its food, and the people who prepare it are noteworthy, so Snackshot of the Day does what photographs do best, rely on the image to do most of the talking.

Today's Snackshot is of mussels. While mussels may be intimidating to cook, they're actually quite simple. You can steam them with any flavor combinations you'd like, though the classic is white wine and garlic. They're also relatively cheap at the grocery store, and when you buy them farmed you don't have to worry about the task of cleaning them. Wild mussels, while a little harder to find, have great flavor.

Read more about The Daily Meal's Snackshot feature. To submit a photo, email jbruce[at], subject: "Snackshots." Follow The Daily Meal's photo editor Jane Bruce on Twitter.

How To Cook Mussels

I know that mussels can be intimidating if you&aposve never made them before but trust me, they are very easy to make. They&aposre also incredibly versatile so once you learn the basic method of cooking them you can change the sauce they&aposre cooked in to create many new flavors.

A Few Notes for Perfect Mussels

  • Always buy your mussels fresh frozen mussels have a mealy texture. Make sure the mussel shells are firmly closed. If they are open a little give them a firm tap against the side of the sink or the counter. If they close you can eat them. If not discard them.
  • Make sure you inspect each mussel before you buy it. Don&apost buy any that has a cracked shell.
  • If you live more than a few minutes away from your fishmonger ask them for a bag of ice to put next to your mussels in your shopping bag. This will help keep them fresh if you must drive a little ways before you get home.
  • You&aposll want to give the mussels a scrub under cold running water. Grab their beards (the hairy stuff usually on the bottom side of the mussel) and give it a tug to remove it. Put all the clean mussels in a bowl and put them back in the fridge while you prepare the sauce.
  • Remember that mussels are very salty so you won&apost need to add any extra sea salt.
  • Mussels have a lot of liquid inside of them so even if it does not seem like there is much broth to begin with, once they cook and open up they will release their liquid into the pot and there will be lots of broth

Creamy French Mussels

Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 as a main or 6 as an appetizer


  • 2 lb. fresh mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Scrub the mussels well under cold running water and remove their beards. Place them back in your fridge while you prepare the sauce.

2. Place a medium sized pot over medium high heat. Add the butter and, when it has melted, add the shallots. Sauté the shallots for 3 minutes then add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.

3. Add the white wine and bring the pot to a boil.

4. Add the mussels all at once to the pot and give them a stir. Put the lid on the pot and let them cook for 3 minutes.

5. Stir the mussels and remove any from the pot that have opened wide and place them in a serving dish. Continue to remove the mussels from the pot once they have opened.

6. Discard any mussel that remains tightly shut after 6 minutes.

7. Remove the pot from the heat, stir though the heavy cream, fresh cracked pepper and chopped parsley. Pour the cooking liquid over the mussels in the serving bowl and serve immediately.

Mussels are great served with a side of crusty bread and a couple of spoons for sopping up all the tasty broth.

These New England-style mussels are cooked in a white wine broth and topped with a garlic butter. "They&aposre best New England-style mussels you will ever taste," says I Sea Food and Eat It. "Serve with thinly sliced garlic French bread toast."

Make-Ahead Mussels?

Mussels must be served immediately after cooking but I&aposve learned a few tricks to make it easier if you are serving these to company:

  • The mussels can be scrubbed an hour before you serve them. Keep them in your fridge until right before you are going to cook them. Before cooking recheck them to make sure none have opened and discard any that have. Do expect to throw away a few.
  • The broth can be made a few hours ahead of time and left in the pot at room temperature. Bring it to a boil before adding the mussels.

Variations on the Basic Recipe:

French Mussels

Cook the mussels as described above but omit the cream at the end of cooking.

Chipotle Mussels

Sauté a few shallots in some butter. Add garlic, pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and a few drops of liquid smoke. A little maple syrup and/or a small splash of soy sauce are also nice additions. Add some wine to the pot then continue to cook the mussels as described above. Once the mussels have finished cooking add a splash of cream to the sauce.

Italian Mussels

Sauté some shallots in olive oil. Add garlic and chopped tomatoes to the pot. Add the wine and continue to prepare the mussels as described above. Stir some chopped fresh basil through the sauce once the mussels have finished cooking.

Beer and Bacon Mussels

Dice a handful of bacon and cook it in the pot until it is nearly crispy. Drain most of the oil from the pot then add some finely minced onion. Cook the onion until it is soft and the bacon is crispy. Pour some beer into the pot and bring it to a boil. Cook the mussels as described above. You can also add a splash of cream at the end if you like.

How To Prepare Fresh Mussels Like A Boss

If you haven't made mussels at home, we highly recommend you do so right away. Not only are they so much easier to make than they look, but they're also one of the more affordable seafood options out there -- a bargain compared to lobster and crab. There are many ways to enjoy them -- just take a look at the list of recipes below -- the flavor options are endless. But before you start cooking, there a few things you need to know about preparing this bivalve.

First, it's important to store mussels properly. When you get home with mussels, transfer them to a bowl and cover loosely with a wet towel or wet newspaper -- you want to keep the mussels moist while also giving them some air. Store the mussels in the coolest part of your refrigerator, but cook them the same day. Don't clean them until you're ready to cook with them.

Next, you have to make sure all the mussels are still fresh and alive. (A dead mussel can make you very sick.) This is easy to do -- just tap the shell on a hard surface, and if it closes it's good to eat. If it does nothing, don't take a chance. The same goes if the mussel feels heavy for its size or if it's cracked.

Now, for the cleaning. These days most mussels we buy are cultivated so they're less likely to be full of sand and grit (compared to wild mussels). In the rare case that you do buy wild mussels, they need to be soaked in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes, and then drained. (Cultivated mussels can skip the soaking process.) For both types, scrub the mussels under cold, running water and remove the beards (the bristly material sticking out from one side) by pulling down toward the hinge of the shell and outward. Use a towel for leverage -- mussels hold onto their beards fiercely.

Then, give it a good scrub.

Finally, they're ready to cook. The classic method for cooking mussels is steaming them. Mussels contain a small amount of liquid, so steaming doesn't require the addition of any extra liquid. But adding a small amount of stock, wine or beer can add great flavor -- add it to a hot pan before tossing in the mussels. Cover tightly with a lid and wait five minutes. The mussels should open between five and seven minutes. Once open, they're cooked and ready to eat. (Mussels that don't open should be chucked.)

Now use this great knowledge and go enjoy yourself a big plate of mussels -- preferably with a side of fries.

How to Cook Mussels Like a Professional

Once you learn these simple steps to cooking mussels with white wine, you'll add it to your dinner rotation.

Mussels are a delicious seafood option when you want a quick-cooking feast for your family, but they can look intimidating to tackle with their hard outer shells. Once you learn how to cook mussels the correct way, plus how to buy and clean these bivalves, you'll be adding this tasty, brothy dinner to your rotation. Looking for a super-fast weeknight dinner or an easy appetizer for your family? Search no further: This one pot meal, full of garlicky broth, is ready in 20 minutes. Here, the easiest steps to get dinner on the table fast:

How do I choose mussels?

Mussels are alive and should be when you cook them. Once they die, they turn bad very quickly. So look for mussels that are sold on ice. They should have shiny shells and appear wet. They should smell briny like the ocean. Figure on about half pound of mussels per person for a dinner portion. If you plan on using them as a starter you can figure on about quarter pound per person.

What's the best way to clean mussels?

So now you've bought them, you're probably wondering, how do I clean mussels before cooking? It's super simple. Place the mussels in a colander. Under cold running water, scrub off any sand, barnacles, mud, or seaweed. Discard any mussels with cracked shells.

Give them a tap. Because mussels are alive and should be when you cook them, their shells should be closed (this is how you know they're still living!). If there are any open mussels in your bunch, tap them lightly, and they should close up. If they don&rsquot, throw those away. Also, scrape the beards. Mussels have tiny membranes called &ldquobeards&rdquo that they use to attach themselves to hard surfaces in the ocean. They aren't pleasant to eat (they can be sandy and grainy), so it's important to remove before cooking and eating. To de-beard: grab the membrane between your thumb and forefinger and pull downward towards the hinged-end of the shell (use a paper towel to help grasp, if needed).

How should I store fresh mussels?

It is best to purchase mussels the same day you plan on cooking them. But if plans change, place them in a bowl, cover with a damp towel and refrigerate them for a day or two max. They need to breathe, so resist the urge to put them in an airtight container or in water.

Do I need to soak mussels?

Most mussels available in the stores now are farmed, but if you happen to pick up a bag of wild mussels, make sure to give them a soak in cold water for 20 minutes and then drain before cooking to remove any sand and grit inside the shellfish.

How long does it take to cook mussels?

Once they are cleaned and de-bearded, they are ready to get cooked and eaten. How long does it take to actually cook mussels? Once they are in, they only take 3 to 4 minutes. How do you know when they are done? They are done when their shells are open. Any mussels that aren&rsquot open should be tossed (it&rsquos an indication that they might not have been alive when they were added to the pot).

Now you know how to cook and clean mussels, try these classic white wine mussels or one of our tasty variations. For us, it is all about the sauce, so make sure to have some toasty, crispy bread on hand for dunking.

David’s Home Recipes RT: Mussels

3 lb mussels
2 tbs olive oil
5 garlic cloves minced
4 tbs shallots minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbs red bell pepper minced (optional)
2 C dry white wine
1/2 C parsley chopped
fresh ground black pepper
2 tbs cold butter cut in 4 pieces

You will need a large pot (big dutch oven or soup pot)

Rinse mussels to make sure they are clean. Sometimes I use a little mushroom brush and give each one a little brush. Some may have little beards (that’s how they attach themselves to ropes when the grow). Pull beard off.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes and red bell pepper. Soften for about a minute or two.

Add white wine, mussels and half of the parsley. Turn up heat and cover tightly.

Once the wine starts boiling, the mussels should open in 3 or 4 minutes.

Remove the mussels to bowls or one large bowl and set aside. Continue to boil wine, uncovered, for another minute.

Add the rest of the parsley and a little fresh ground black pepper. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.

Leftover mussels, next day

Made mussles marinière today and got leftovers for tomorrow (it was a big package, 1.5 kg).
What would you do?

btw - After I'd made the mussels, I talked to a friend who recommended mussles marinière with added blue cheese. Anyone tried that?

Why? You can buy cooked mussels, even as moules marinieres, in the supermarket to heat up, and they aren't short-dated. I've sometimes cooked mussels for a big dinner party (usually in the form, approximately, of the Chilean meat-and-shellfish dish of Curanto) and found few of the other guests wanted to eat them, so I've been eating them for several days afterwards, to my great pleasure.

I love lobster with black bean sauce, shrimp with black bean sauce. so why not mussels with black bean sauce?
The Chinese market where I shop for not just asian foods but also fresh seafood (they have the freshest) had mussels so the Chinese must enjoy them also. (it's 99 Ranch Market. for the curious).

The mussles were good the next day, today, not quite as good as freshly made though.
There's the sauce left that I'll use as a base for a fish soup, with some of the ingredients from sfgirl42's recipe.

You can buy cooked mussels, even as moules marinieres, in the supermarket to heat up,

Really? That's something I've never seen. Maybe that's because mussels aren't super popular here, even though they are farmed within a couple hours drive. I notice that a lot of recipes talk about buying a "bag" or "sack" of mussels. Here they are sold loose, on ice. (Which is probably another reason many supermarkets don't carry them--most do not have a fish counter with seafood on ice it's all packaged stuff.) I like buying them that way, because I can specify a number, not a weight.

Julia Child suggests making soup with leftover moules marinière , or turing them into a cold stuffed mussels dish. The recipe she gives for the stuffed ones is to remove the cooked mussels from the shells and clean & save half if the shells. The mussels are placed back in the half shells & covered with an herb mayonnaise.

5. Sesame Fritters

A must-have for Lunar New Year, sesame fritters are deep-fried cookie balls rolled in sesame seeds. They have a characteristic cracked opening that emulates a wide grin—giving them the Chinese name of “grinning fritters”. Most people consider this food a New Year’s snack more than a dessert, but it works both ways. The golden colour of the fritters symbolizes wealth, while the grin represents laughter. You can buy these bite-sized delights at Chinese bakeries, including Saint Germain Bakery (various locations).

Osmanthus jelly tastes great and is made of healthy ingredients. bushton3

Mussels Drenched in Ouzo

The night before Thanksgiving, it's always nice to cook something that's quick, and something you won't be serving the next day. Here's a dish to keep in mind for Wednesday.

What you might expect to be strong anise notes in the ouzo-spiked broth of these mussels is mellowed by an equal amount of white wine. The crispness of grape tomatoes, parsley and thin slices of fennel plays off the sweet, soft seafood.

The flavor won't be quite the same, but for a nonalcoholic version, replace the ouzo and wine with 1/2 cup sparkling pear cider plus 1 whole star anise. Be sure to remove the spice before serving.

Serve with a crusty baguette, for dunking.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.


Cut the garlic into thin slices. Coarsely chop enough shallot to yield 1/2 cup. Cut each tomato in half lengthwise. Chop a few of the fennel fronds reserve the remaining stems and fronds for another use (such as homemade vegetable broth). Core the fennel bulb half, then cut it into very thin slices.

Pick enough leaves from the thyme stems to yield 1 teaspoon. Finely chop the parsley.

Rinse the mussels and clean them as needed, discarding any stringy bits (beards) that might be attached. Do not use any mussels that have opened and will not close when tapped.

Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and stir to coat. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the shallot and stir to coat. Increase the heat to medium cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring a few times, until the garlic and shallot have somewhat softened.

Add the tomatoes, sliced fennel, salt (to taste), black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and thyme stir to incorporate, then cook for 3 minutes.

Add the ouzo, wine and mussels. Cover and cook (medium heat) for 7 to 10 minutes or until the mussels have opened.

Uncover discard any mussels that remained closed. Add the chopped parsley and fennel fronds. Use two large spoons to toss the mussels in the pot liquor and incorporate the herbs and vegetables.

Divide between wide, shallow bowls, including the liquor. Serve right away.

Recipe Source

Adapted from "Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love," by Einat Admony with Joel Chasnoff and Dhale Pomes (Artisan, 2013).


The majority of fresh supermarket mussels are farm-raised and available year-round, with wild varieties more available in the fall and winter months at specialty seafood stores. As far as sustainability issues are concerned, mussels are considered outliers. Farmed mussels are not only fine, they&aposre often preferred since they can actually improve their surrounding environment. Farmed mussels are also the easiest to prep because they are grown vertically on ropes, their shells aren&apost filled with sand and grit from the ocean floor like with wild.

Who should buy this cookbook?

The Great Shellfish Cookbook is suitable for any type of cook. Whether you know that mussels are alive when you buy them, or you didn’t even know that periwinkles were shellfish, you can cook from this cookbook. The straightforward, lighthearted nature of this book makes for great gatherings when you’ve got a crowd over to cook, or you’re trying to impress your significant other. As someone who lives on the East Coast, it will be a great addition to my cookbook shelf and I already know I’ll be referencing it regularly (I can literally hear Adam smacking his lips as I type this).

So, get shucked up with The Great Shellfish Cookbook, but in the meantime here’s a recipe for the Game Day Mussels I whipped up.

Watch the video: The Right Way to Eat Oysters - Stop Eating it Wrong, Episode 8 (December 2021).