Funnily enough, even though Sweden has so much coast not everyone likes mussels. Somehow it’s a slightly required taste whereas I have yet to meet a Brit (or other European) who doesn’t like mussels. Here you find them on every other pub menu and fresh at the supermarket.
My American friend Laura just adores seafood so when she came over for lunch last Sunday I opted for a fresh bowl of moules marinières over a roast, which worked perfectly with the warm spring weather. To finish the meal we had chewy lemon cake and ice cream with the sun shining in through the open terrace door.
When it comes to classic French dishes I of course trust Julia Child and Rick Stein although they’re not French themselves but this time I went straight to the source and used Raymond Blanc’s terrific recipe.
A little about mussels: You can buy them a day or two before cooking and eating them. Cut up the net, pour them into a large bowl and cover with a damp cloth and keep in the fridge. Before serving take off the beards and discard any open mussels (the ones that don’t close when being tapped on the shell). Rinse thoroughly in a colander.
After cooking you don’t need to discard any mussels that didn’t open, they’re still fresh and healthy, it is the ones that won’t close before cooking that are the bad ones.
Moules Marinières, serves 2
Adapted from Raymond Blanc’s recipe.
750 g – 1 kg mussels
100 ml dry white wine
1 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp double cream or whipping cream
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Wash the mussels and de-beard them. Discard any open mussels.
Boil the wine in a small saucepan for 30 seconds then set aside (to remove the alcohol). Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a high heat, then add the onion, bay leaves and thyme. Stir for 10 seconds, then add the wine and bring to a boil.
Add the mussels, cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mussels open. Add the cream and parsley and stir well. No seasoning is required as the mussels will release a little salt water when they open, which is enough to season the dish perfectly.
Serve immediately with good-quality bread to mop up the juices.