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Verses from my Kitchen: Fragrant Mussels with White Wine and Shallot

December 3, 2010

Fragrant Mussels with White Wine and Shallot

Mussels have always been bountiful along the Eastern and Western shorelines of Canada. Thankfully for those of us residing in the heart of the country, they're arriving in markets in swish net bags ready for our bowl and table. One trip to the shop secures a bag full of meaty, tasty mussels.

The first trick to making a batch of mouth-watering mussels is to make sure they're properly cleaned and ready for steaming.  If the mussels don't shut tight after handling or tapping, they're useless, so get rid of them. Those mussels just aren't fit for eating. Also, stay clear of any that don't open after cooking. They too are expendable and aren't worthy of a spot on your dinner table. The motto is simple: raw and open or cooked and closed, toss them.

This particular batch is all about fresh herbs and ingredients and sweet and crisp white wine. It starts with softened and aromatic shallots and thyme, propped up with layers of flavour. Thinly sliced garlic cooked until softened, mussels slightly cooked before the light white wine is added. The sweet wine works wonderfully to create a smooth, garlicky bowl of mussels. The last layers come from creamy butter and chopped bunch of fresh cilantro. This is one delectable pot of mussels.

My wife loves mussels. She loves the simple approach to steamed mussels. The play between the soft mussels and the crunchy crisp french baguette. There's also something soothing about a hot bowl of mussels on a cold night. Luckily we share the same palette and often resort to something comforting like this to reward us after a long week.

The best thing about a night like this isn't the food. It's the end of a long week and getting the chance to sit down at the dinner table with my wife. The candles are lit and the lights are dimmed. We share in these moments which quickly become our favourite memories. The two of us reminiscing and talking about our future. Taking about great food over better conversation. The food just happens to be the reason we're connected.

Fragrant Steamed Mussels with White Wine and Shallot:

The Goods:
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 lbs. fresh Atlantic mussels, rinsed and de-bearded
3/4 cup white wine, like Chardonnay or Riesling
1 lemon, juiced
Sea salt and cracked pepper
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. cilantro


1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over med-high heat and add the oil. Add the shallot and stir and cook for 1 minute.

2. Add the sprigs of thyme and garlic to create the base layer of flavour.

3. Add the mussels and stir. Cover and cook for 1 minute.

4. Add the wine and lemon juice and cover. Cook mussels until all are opened, about 5-6 minutes.

5. Remove the thyme and pull out any of the mussels that didn't open. Season to taste and stir in the butter and cilantro.

6. Spoon mussels and broth into one large serving bowl or individual bowls. Serve.

Fragrant Mussels with White Wine and Shallot

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At December 4, 2010 at 9:34 AM , Blogger Christo Gonzales said...

a favorite......

At December 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM , Blogger Michael Lewicki said...

Thank you. I feel bad for those people that don't eat mussels. Missing out big time.


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