This Steamed Mussels Recipe with White Wine Cream Sauce is made with mussels, butter, garlic cloves, onion, white wine, heavy cream, lemon, and parsley.
This might be one of my favorite summer dishes especially if you down it with a nice dry white wine. This is an exceptionally light meal and pairs well with a light, lemon pasta. To debeard, you need to grab the hair (some may have it and some don’t) that can be found between the shells. Pull them off. The best way to clean the mussels is to let them soak in fresh, salted cold water for 20 minutes to 3 hours. The mussels will breathe the water and eject any salt or debris there might be inside. After soaking them, run them under cold water and with a brush, scrub each shell to get any dirt left on them.
- What are Mussels?
- Is it better to steam or boil mussels?
- How do you prepare mussels before steaming?
- Why you will love this Steamed Mussels Recipe
- Steamed Mussels Ingredients
- How to make Steamed Mussels Recipe
- How do you cook mussels so they are tender?
- Steamed Mussels Recipe Variations
- How to store Steamed Mussels
- Steamed Mussels Recipe Top tips
- Steamed Mussels Recipe (Italian Style)
- Food safety
What are Mussels?
Mussels are a type of shellfish that are found in both freshwater and saltwater environments. They belong to the bivalve family of mollusks, which also includes clams, oysters, and scallops. Mussels have a hard, elongated shell that is usually dark blue or black in color. The shells are connected by a hinge and are opened and closed by a strong muscle. Mussels are filter feeders, meaning they draw in water through their shells and filter out plankton and other small organisms as a source of food.
Mussels are a popular seafood that are enjoyed in many different cuisines around the world. They can be cooked in a variety of ways, including steaming, boiling, grilling, or sautéing. Mussels are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are relatively low in fat and calories.
Is it better to steam or boil mussels?
Steaming is often hailed as a superior cooking method for mussels due to its ability to preserve and enhance their natural flavors. The gentle steam envelops the mussels, coaxing out their inherent taste without submerging them in a boiling liquid that might dilute their essence. This method ensures that the mussels remain succulent and tender, as the indirect heat prevents overcooking. Additionally, steaming is a more nuanced approach, allowing for the retention of subtle nuances in the mollusk's taste profile that might be lost in the more robust environment of boiling.
How do you prepare mussels before steaming?
- Purchase Fresh Mussels: Choose fresh mussels from a reputable source. Look for tightly closed shells, or those that close when tapped. Avoid open or damaged shells.
- Cleaning and Debearding: Rinse the mussels under cold running water to remove any debris or sand. Use a brush to scrub off any barnacles or seaweed on the shells. Check for "beards," which are stringy fibers sticking out from between the shells. Grasp the beard with a firm grip and pull it toward the hinge end of the mussel to remove it.
- Discard Open or Broken Mussels: Discard any mussels with cracked or open shells that do not close when tapped. This is important for ensuring that you're cooking only live and safe-to-eat mussels.
- Soaking in Cold Water: Place the cleaned mussels in a bowl of cold water. Add a handful of salt and let them soak for about 20 minutes. This helps to purge any remaining sand or impurities from the mussels.
Why you will love this Steamed Mussels Recipe
Steaming is one of the most popular methods of cooking mussels, and there are several reasons why you might choose to prepare them this way:
- Easy and quick: Steaming mussels is a quick and easy way to cook them. It only takes a few minutes to steam mussels, making it a great option for busy weeknights or when you want to cook something quickly.
- Retains flavor and nutrients: Steaming helps to retain the natural flavor and nutrients of the mussels. The steam helps to cook the mussels gently and evenly, ensuring that they remain tender and flavorful.
- Versatile: Steamed mussels can be served on their own as an appetizer or main course, or they can be incorporated into a variety of dishes, such as pasta, soup, or stew.
Steamed Mussels Ingredients
- White wine
- Heavy cream
See recipe card for quantities for this Steamed Mussels Recipe.
How to make Steamed Mussels Recipe
In a deep lidded saucepan on medium heat, add the butter and wait for it to melt. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
Pour in the white wine, cream and lemon juice and wait for it to boil.
Add the mussels and lime wedges. Stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes, until the mussels open.
Remove from heat and toss any mussels that haven’t opened. Garnish with parsley and extra lemon juice, if needed.
Hint: Toss any mussels that haven't opened. This means they died before the cooking process.
How do you cook mussels so they are tender?
To ensure mussels are tender when cooking, begin by meticulously cleaning and inspecting them, discarding any with cracked or open shells. Opt for gentle steaming over boiling, as it preserves the mussels' delicate texture. Keep the cooking time short—max 10 minutes—since mussels cook quickly, and overcooking can lead to toughness. Infuse the mussels with flavor by steaming them in a broth made with white wine, garlic, shallots, herbs, and a splash of lemon juice!
Mussels: I like to put my mussels in a bowl of cold salted water to irritate the mussels. After 30 minutes, I individually scrub and debeard each mussel.
Butter: I used salted stick butter although you can use unsalted butter and control the salt level yourself.
Garlic: I would recommend using fresh garlic but minced garlic from a jar works as well.
Onions: I used white onions, although yellow works as well.
White Wine: I would recommend a cheap dry white wine - definitely not sweet wine.
Parsley: I love garnishing all my plates. The parsley also adds to the flavor of each mussel. I chopped them up and added them at the end for a touch of color and flavor.
Steamed Mussels Recipe Variations
Steamed mussels are a delicious and versatile dish that can be prepared in a variety of ways. Here are a few recipe variations that you might want to try:
- Classic Steamed Mussels: To prepare classic steamed mussels, sauté garlic and shallots in a large pot with butter and white wine until fragrant. Add the mussels, cover the pot, and steam until the mussels have opened. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the flavorful broth.
- Thai-Style Steamed Mussels: For a Thai-inspired twist, sauté garlic, ginger, and red curry paste in a pot with coconut milk, fish sauce, and lime juice. Add the mussels and steam until they open, then garnish with fresh cilantro and sliced chili peppers.
- Spanish-Style Steamed Mussels: For a Spanish twist, sauté garlic, onion, and chorizo in a pot with white wine, tomato sauce, and smoked paprika. Add the mussels and steam until they open, then serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges.
- Steamed Mussels with Beer and Bacon: For a hearty and flavorful dish, sauté bacon, garlic, and shallots in a pot with beer and chicken broth. Add the mussels and steam until they open, then serve with crusty bread and a sprinkle of chopped fresh thyme.
To make Italian-style steamed mussels, you will need a few pieces of equipment:
- Large Pot: You will need a large pot with a tight-fitting lid to steam the mussels. The pot should be large enough to hold all of the mussels without overcrowding them. I love using my Caraway pots for best quality. Get yourself a discount by clicking here.
- Strainer or Colander: You will need a strainer or colander to rinse and clean the mussels before cooking.
- Cutting Board and Knife: You will need to chop vegetables, such as garlic and onions, so a cutting board and a sharp knife will come in handy.
- Wooden Spoon: You will need a wooden spoon to stir the mussels and ensure they cook evenly.
- Serving Bowl: Once the mussels are cooked, you will need a large serving bowl to present them.
- Crusty Bread: Steamed mussels are often served with crusty bread to soak up the flavorful broth, so you may want to have a loaf of bread on hand.
How to store Steamed Mussels
If you have leftover steamed mussels, it's important to store them properly to ensure their safety and freshness. Here are some tips for storing steamed mussels:
- Cool the mussels quickly: After steaming, allow the mussels to cool to room temperature before storing them. This will prevent the growth of bacteria that could spoil the mussels.
- Discard any unopened mussels: Before storing, discard any mussels that did not open during cooking. These mussels may not be safe to eat.
- Store in an airtight container: Place the leftover mussels in an airtight container and cover them with the leftover cooking liquid or broth. This will help keep the mussels moist and flavorful.
- Refrigerate promptly: Place the container of mussels in the refrigerator as soon as possible after cooking. Mussels should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth.
- Consume within 2 days: Cooked mussels should be consumed within two days of cooking. After that, they may not be safe to eat.
- Reheat properly: If you want to reheat the leftover mussels, be sure to do so thoroughly. You can reheat them in a pot with a little bit of water or broth until heated through, or you can microwave them on high for 30-second intervals until heated through.
Steamed Mussels Recipe Top tips
Here are some top tips for making the best steamed mussels:
- Choose fresh mussels: Make sure to buy mussels from a reputable source and check that they are tightly closed. Open or cracked mussels should be discarded.
- Clean the mussels properly: Rinse the mussels in cold water and scrub them with a brush to remove any sand or debris. Discard any mussels with broken shells or that do not close tightly when tapped.
- Use flavorful liquid: Use a flavorful liquid to steam the mussels, such as white wine, beer, or broth. This will infuse the mussels with flavor and make a delicious broth to dip bread in.
- Add aromatics: Add aromatics such as garlic, onions, or herbs to the liquid to enhance the flavor of the broth.
- Steam until the shells open: Cook the mussels until the shells open, which should take about 5-7 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.
- Serve with crusty bread: Serve the steamed mussels with crusty bread to soak up the flavorful broth.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove