Moules Mariniere

My fishmonger here in West London ( is big on shellfish and his nets of mussels are rarely barnacle-flecked but their glossy shells hide luscious, plump mussels. Not for me the usual scrubbing and scraping, rinsing and draining that can take a good twenty minutes and a lot longer than the actual cooking. This is a favourite quick supper or Saturday lunch recipe and it’s simple: a chopped onion and a couple of cloves of garlic softened in olive oil then the cleaned mussels and a glass of white wine boiled up together. Tipped into a big white china bowl with a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley and crusty bread and butter to dunk in the salty juices, this is always a feast. I find that one net (approx 1kg) is plenty to satisfy two reasonable appetites with salad and maybe cheese to follow.

Serves 2
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 20 min

1 kg, approx fresh mussels
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil or half butter, half oil
250ml dry white wine (or cider)
25g flat leaf parsley

Scrub the mussels, scraping away any barnacles, pulling out the beards. Wash in several changes of water, agitating to help clean them. Discard any cracked shells and any mussels that float. Drain in a colander. Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Heat the oil or melt butter in oil in a spacious lidded pan over a medium-low heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes until glistening and half cooked but hardly coloured. Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes until aromatic, the onion glassy. Add drained mussels and wine. Increase the heat, cover the pan and cook, shaking the pan every so often, for 5-10 minutes until all the mussels have opened. Chop the parsley leaves. Add half to the pan. Tip into a serving bowl and scatter over remaining parsley. Serve in bowls with a soup ladle, providing a dispense bowl for shells.