I just spend severals days in « Bretagne » and I love the seafood, especially mussels, or as the French call them, “moules”. Mussels steamed in white wine and served in a sauce made from the cooking liquid with shallots is a classic French way of preparing mussels, « moules mariniere ». This is one of the easiest and loveliest ways to eat them. It is wonderful for an appetizer or a light lunch, and excellent with a glass of white wine and some crusty bread.
When purchasing mussels be sure they smell like the ocean, not fishy. Don't buy any mussels with opened or cracked shells, or any that refuse to close their shells when you handle or tap them, those are dying or dead. Try to cook the mussels immediately, but if you have to wait place them in a bowl and cover them with a damp towel so they can breathe.
1kg fresh live mussels
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
150ml white wine
2 sprigs thyme
small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
crusty bread, to serve
Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat until softened. Add the wine and turn up to a high heat. As the wine starts to boil, add the cleaned mussels and thyme to the pan. Turn the heat down to low.
Put the lid on the pan and allow the mussels to steam. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, lifting the lid from time to time to check - you will know they are cooked when the shells have opened. Discard any mussels that remain closed.
Place the mussels in serving bowls and pour over the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately with crusty bread for dipping int the sauce and mayonnaise, if desired.