The Washington Post

Classic Mussels Mariniere

Classic Mussels Mariniere 2.000

Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post; styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Eat Voraciously Newsletter Oct 28, 2020

This is one of those “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” dishes, where simple ingredients conspire to make something sublime — all in about 15 minutes. You can grill the bread before you start steaming the mussels or grill it as the mussels are cooking so it stays nice and hot.

Grill or broil a few slices of a rustic bread, such as ciabatta, brush them with olive oil and serve alongside to sop up the broth. And a bottle of cold muscadet makes a good pairing.

2 - 4

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Tested size: 2-4 servings

  • 1 pound mussels
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped shallot or onion
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt, if needed


Rinse the mussels, scrape the exteriors of any that have little barnacles on them, and pull or cut off any beards.

Check over the mussels to look for “gapers” — mussels that are open. Tap or gently squeeze any open ones and see if they start to close; the movement might be subtle. If there is no response, the mussel is probably no longer alive, so toss it out.

In a large pot with a lid over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the wine and simmer until the wine is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.

Add the mussels to the pot, cover and cook, shaking the pot every few moments, as though you’re making popcorn. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until most of the mussels have opened. If there are many mussels still closed, cook for another 30 seconds or so; don’t worry too much about overcooking the mussels, as they are fairly forgiving.

Toss in the parsley and stir the mussels a bit to distribute the herbs. Lift out the mussels with tongs or a big slotted spoon and divide them between two big bowls. Taste the broth and season with salt, if needed. If the flavor is concentrated and delicious, swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and pour it over the mussels. If the broth seems a bit bland, simmer it for a few more seconds to reduce and concentrate the flavor, and then add the butter and pour it over the mussels. Taste, and season with more salt, if desired. Serve warm.


Mussels in Curried Cream: While cooking the shallot and garlic, stir in 1 tablespoon curry powder (hot or mild). After the wine has reduced by half, add 3/4 cup heavy cream and boil until it has reduced by a little more than half, another 5 minutes or so. Finish with slivered fresh basil along with the parsley.

Mussels in Ginger-Chile Coconut Broth: Substitute a neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed, to cook the shallot and garlic and add 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh ginger and finely chopped fresh chile (hot or mild). Instead of the white wine, add 1 cup of full-fat coconut milk and 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice. Finish with roughly chopped cilantro instead of parsley.

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Recipe Source

From food writer Martha Holmberg.

Tested by Olga Massov.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (the classic version with 2 slices of ciabatta) based on 4: 267

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 10g 15%

Saturated Fat: 5g 25%

Cholesterol: 53mg 18%

Sodium: 543mg 23%

Total Carbohydrates: 15g 5%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 3g

Protein: 17g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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