• 2 kg mussels (avoid the pre-cleaned and pre-packed, and buy them as fresh as you can. in france, choose ‘bouchot’, the best, grown on wooden posts)
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 tblsp sunflower oil
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 shallots (finely chopped)
  • a good handful of curly parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 glasses dry white wine
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • Clean the mussels under cold running water, then scrub them and pull off the gritty beards. Discard any that are open and do not close as you press on them.
  • In a very large, deep saucepan, heat the butter with the oil and gently sweat the garlic and shallots. Add the parsley, white wine and some pepper and bring to the boil.
  • Throw in the mussels, put the lid on and cook for 2-3 minutes. Give the pan a shake or dig down to the bottom once or twice with a ladle to make sure they cook evenly. The mussels are cooked when the shells are open and the flesh is tender. It’s a very fast process, of and steaming really rather than boiling.
  • Discard any mussels that have remained closed and then, with a large slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to deep plates. Ladle the glorious cooking liquid over them and serve.
  • Other tasty possibilities are cooking the mussels in pastis instead of wine, or for moules a la crème, adding a few tablespoons of crème frâiche to the cooking liquid after the mussels are cooked.