Mussels in white wine are one of the easiest things to make, although they feel fairly decadent. For me they bring back memories of living in London many year ago in particular. And they are always delicious.
When I moved to London it was an interesting challenge finding a place to live. There was no chance that I could afford a place on my own and while I knew a couple people there, none of them were looking for roommates/flatmates. I had to rely on the good old internet and paper listings (I know probably unthinkable now). Did you know in London at least you can actually look too early? And by too early, I mean a month before you need a place to live. Anyway, I ended up being very lucky in the place I found. It was a nice apartment, good location, not too bad rent and the people I shared with were lovely. Thinking about it, I pretty much hit the jackpot, especially when you add some of the places nearby to eat. For example, almost backing on to our building was a branch of a small chain of Belgian restaurants where you could get the most delicious mussels. One of the best ways they served was mussels in white wine.
I had come to like mussels when I lived in Spain a few years earlier as they were both cheap and so easy to make for a meal. The town I lived in was not too far from the coast so they were nice and fresh, which is important for mussels. Mussels are one of those things that can seem a bit intimidating if you haven’t cooked them before. But really they are so incredibly quick to prepare, they’ll be one of the quickest meals you’ll make and they’re so delicious.
Tips for cooking mussels
Here are a few things you should remember when you cook mussels:
- First, make sure you rinse them in cold water before you cook them and scrape off any loose bits of shell, barnacles as well as pulling off any hairy bits. These can be tough to pull off as they are attached to the mussel inside, but do try.
- Second, discard any broken mussels or ones already open that don’t close up when you press them together and rinse them. I know it might seem sad to throw them away, but trust me you’ll be happier for it.
- Thirdly, make sure you cook them in a pan that’s a fair bit bigger than the volume of your mussels. At least double is a good idea, so they have room to open up. You will also need it to be a pot with a lid so they can steam properly. They will only take a few minutes to open up which is how you know they are cooked.
- Lastly, as you eat them, throw away any that aren’t open or don’t open easily when you try to open them.
How they’re made
Mussels in white wine is such a simple yet tasty way of preparing mussels. There can be a couple variations to it, but primarily you steam the mussels in the wine and then use the wine as the sauce, adding a couple other things as you prefer. It’s common to add a little onion or shallot as well as parsley. Garlic and a little butter are also in many versions. There can be other things, but really you don’t need too much more. Bread makes a great side (toasted and rubbed with garlic, if you like) to mop up all the tasty white wine sauce.
It’s such a simple yet delicious dish, there’s really not much more to say about it but go out and get some mussels and make it. Mussels in white wine feels like a posh dish but as you’ll see is so ridiculously quick and easy once you keep the points above in mind. The mussels are delicious, the wine sauce is light and flavorsome. I’d say a winner for Valentine’s day for sure, or any excuse you choose.
Mussels in white wine
- 1 lb mussels 450g
- 1 shallot or approx 1/4 small onion
- 1 clove garlic small
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil approx
- 1/2 cup white wine 120ml
- 1 handful parsley small
- 1/2 tbsp butter a small knob, approx 5g
- Rinse the mussels well in cold water, taking off any dirt, barnacles and hairy bits. Discard any that are broken or open that don't close when you press them.
- Finely slice the shallot/onion and garlic. Warm the oil in a pan big enough to allow the mussels to expand and add the onion and garlic. Stir and cook for a minute or two to soften slightly. Add the wine then the mussels, cover with a lid and allow the mussels to steam. They should only take a couple minutes to open up. Give the pan a little shiggle if you need to let the mussels have more space to open.
- Once all of the mussels have opened, remove them with a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Add the parsley and butter to the wine, continue to cook a minute so the butter melts then pour the sauce over the mussels and serve immediately.
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