02 Oct Moules Marinière


Moules Marinière

2 October 2020

PREP. TIME: 20 MIN   -   COOK TIME: 10 minutes   -   SERVES: 4- 6

Elizabeth David would have to be the last word in Moules Marinière.

She steps us through three magnificent variations in her books - A Book of Mediterranean Food and French Provincial Cooking.  Both books were published more than 50 years ago - so it says a lot about classical French cooking and Elizabeth David.  No better instruction that I can find.

The recipe given first is the simplest and really the most primitive of all.  (See below for two additional variations).  The success of all of the dishes relies upon the small tender, black mussels that are readily available throughout Victoria.   Forget trying to use those hideous New Zealand green lipped mussels - they are inedible. 

The juices that come from cooking mussels are positively delicious and must be preserved with utmost care.  This is what truly flavours your dish.

Recipe Template

Allow 500g mussels per person for a main course and a glass of dry white wine or cider for every kilogram of mussels.

Arm everyone with an oversized table napkin (a tea towel each is perfect), set the table with a colourful cloth, a fork and a soup spoon each, and the best possible bread that you can get and perhaps a dish of lovely fresh butter.

Serve the mussels hot from the pan with the juices strained over them.

A chilled, dry, white wine such as a Muscadet from the Loire Valley is  the ideal accompaniment for mussels, other recommendations include a bone - dry Provencal Rose or a Beaujolais.

ingredients for 4 generous serves

2 kg fresh black mussels

1 small onion

1 clove garlic

1 large glass of white wine

1 small piece of celery

Plenty of parsley


A large bowl to place the cleaned mussels in.

A warmed large bowl or tureen to hold and serve the cooked mussels from.

A large wide pan with a lid to cook the mussels in.

A chopping board and a small kitchen knife.

A wire strainer to strain the juices through.  Ideally line the strainer with a piece of muslin or fine, clean tea towel.


Step 1 - Prepare the Mussels

Place the mussels in a large clean sink.  The mussels should smell lovely and fresh.

Discard any broken or open mussels or mussels that feel heavy to hold (they may be full of sand).

Clean the mussels well - removing the beards by pulling them with your fingers and scraping any grit off the shells with a small knife.  

Wash the mussels in several changes of water if necessary. 

Set them aside in a large bowl under a clean damp tea towel while you prepare the other ingredients.

Step 2 - Prepare the other ingredients

Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic 

Rinse and finely chop the celery and parsley.

Step 3 - Cooking and Assembly

Place the pot over moderate heat and add the white wine and the mussels.

Cook fairly fast with the lid on for a minute or so.  This is to allow the steam to develop from the wine and the juices that are released from the mussels.

Remove the lid - and remove each mussel as it opens and set them aside in the large, warmed serving bowl or tureen.  This should only take a few minutes.

Once all of the mussels are ready strain the juices through a fine wire strainer - lined with muslin, back into the pot.

Gently reheat these precious juices and then strain again over the mussels.


Scatter the chopped onion, celery, parsley and garlic on top.

Step 4 - To Serve

Serve as quickly as possible with plenty of bread.


Mussels with Onion and Tomato (Moules à l’ Armoricaine)

For 1 kg of small, cleaned mussels, the other ingredients are a medium sized, peeled onion, 2 large tomatoes - skinned, and butter.

In a large heavy pan, melt the butter over moderate heat.

Add the roughly chopped onion and let it turn golden.

Add the chopped tomatoes - cook until they begin to break down.

Add the cleaned musses, without any other liquid.

Turn up the flame and cook until the mussels open, shake the pan from time to time so that the sauce distributes evenly amongst the mussels.

Serve boiling hot - as soon as all of the mussels are open.

Add freshly milled pepper as you bring them to the table.

Enough for 2.

Mussels with Cream Sauce (Moules à la Normande)

A grander version of Moules Marinières.

For 2 kilogram of small, cleaned mussels, the other ingredients are butter, a peeled and chopped shallot, a big handful of parsley and a few celery leaves - coarsely chopped, and a large glass of dry white wine.

Place a wide pan over moderate heat and and melt the butter.

Add the chopped shallot, 1/3 of the  parsley, all of the celery leaves and the wine.

Once the wine begins to bubble - add the cleaned mussels.

Cover the pan for a few minutes, then remove the lid.

Take out the mussels as they open and transfer them to a warmed dish or terrine.

Strain the remaining stock through a fine wire strainer lined with muslin.

Return the stock to the pan and let it reduce by half.

In a small pot bring 200mls of double cream to boil - cook it so that it reduces and thickens.

Meanwhile - remove the empty half shells from the cooked mussels.

Add the boiling cream to the mussel and wine stock.

Remove from the heat and add another good tablespoon of butter.

Pour the creamy stock while bubbling, over the mussels, add the remainder of the chopped parsley and serve quickly.

Enough for 4.


Recipe by Elizabeth David, A Book of Mediterranean Food and French Provincial Cooking,

Adapted by Elizabeth Peddey.

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