Steamed mussels with white wine and garlic is an easy one-pot meal ready in 20 minutes! Aromatic vegetables are cooked with fresh mussels for a light appetizer or meal. Check out the essential tips for perfect cooking every time.
Steamed mussels prepared Provencal-style for a taste of southeastern France. This seafood delicacy comes together with the help of white wine and garlic. It’s a simple dish to make as long as you follow some key preparation steps to ensure that the mussels are delicious every time.
With just a few simple ingredients, this steamed mussels recipe makes for the perfect light appetizer, or it can be combined with pasta for a hearty entree. All you need is a big pot, and we are ready to go!
How to make steamed mussels
It seems like enjoying a big bowl of mussels only happens when you are out at a fancy restaurant. Let’s save some money and make this at home. There are endless flavor combinations, here are some basics to make the most epic steamed mussels.
The most important thing to do is to make sure you are purchasing live mussels. To check, lightly tap the open mussels with your fingers to see if they close. Some will already be closed and are alive, do not discard. The mussels should have a light ocean fragrance and not a strong fish-like smell. Make sure to discard any with broken shells.
Once purchased immediately take them out of the plastic bag, store the mussels loose in a bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel or cloth. Drain any expelled liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Do not soak mussels in water or clean them until ready to cook.
You do not need to soak the mussels before cooking, the freshwater can kill them. Instead, right before cooking clean them by running under cold water. Scrub the shells with a brush if you have one, or use your fingertips to remove any excess dirt. You may notice a fibrous brown string coming out from the side, this is the beard (byssal thread) of the mussel and it’s inedible.
Remove the beard by pulling it towards the hinge and outwards of the shell. Some mussels will already come debearded. Note that once the beard is removed, the shellfish will only be alive for a short period so cook immediately.
Steaming mussels is a delicious and fast way to cook shellfish using a moist heat cooking method. Using a large high sided pan or pot fitted with a lid, you can first build the aromatic flavors to infuse into the steam and broth. Add mussels, cover and cook over medium-high heat. The liquid will turn into steam when the heat is above 100 °C (212 °F) in the covered pot.
The mussels take about 6 minutes to cook, or until they open. You can check about 3 minutes into cooking, stirring to distribute the ingredients and then recover for a few more minutes. Once the mussels open they are ready to eat, do not overcook as they can become very tough. You can discard any unopened shells. The cooked mussels add a savory seafood flavor to the broth from the juices during steaming.
I’ve also used this steaming technique to make wonderful seafood dishes like my San Francisco Cioppino. You’re going to be amazed at how versatile steaming can be to help create delicious seafood and shellfish meals!
To enhance the flavor of the steamed mussels, I added fresh flavors with a French twist. Butter, shallots, garlic, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, and white wine, create a light and savory broth. I like to toast baguette slices to dip and for a crunchy texture to the dish.
You may combine any ingredients to the broth, like red wine, leeks, onions, chorizo, saffron, or even coconut milk and curry for Thai flavored mussels. What kind of steamed mussels with you cook? I’d love to hear in the comments section below!
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Types of mussels to purchase
The most common variety of mussels found at your local market are Pacific green-lipped (New Zealand), and the Atlantic blue mussel. You can find the green-lipped in specialty seafood markets or Asian grocery stores. They are tan and green, and about 3 to 4 inches in length with a more robust and heartier texture. Most commonly you will find the blue mussel, it has a dark almost black shell, with a blue-tinged lip and 2 to 3 inches in length with tender meat and sweet flavor. They both can be prepared using the same cleaning and cooking method, just visually check for the shells to open for doneness.
Steamed Mussels with White Wine and Garlic
- 1 ½ pounds fresh mussels, cleaned with beard removed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup shallots, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ cup roma tomatoes, ¼-inch dice
- zest of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- ½ cup white wine, chardonnay or dry white wine
- 4 wedges lemon
- kosher salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Wash mussels under cool running water. Scrub the outside and debeard the mussels if present, pull fibrous beard towards the hinge of the shell to remove and discard.
- In a large shallow stockpot heat butter over medium-high heat.
- When butter starts to foam, add shallots and garlic. Stir and cook until shallots are transparent and garlic is soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, stir and cook, about 2 minutes.
- Add wine, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, stir to combine.
- Quickly add the cleaned mussels to the pot, cover and steam for 3 minutes. Carefully open the lid and stir mussels.
- Cover and steam until mussels are opened up and cooked, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Taste sauce and season with remaining lemon juice, salt, and pepper as desired. Top mussels with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.