Mussels are a delectable favorite in Belgian cuisine. These mussels are steamed in a mixture of wine and cream that gives them an incredible flavor. If you want an easy recipe that will make you look like a master chef, this mussel recipe is the way to go!
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I feel like such a socialite when I eat mussels… is that weird? When I’m out to dinner, and a big steaming pot of mussels shows up at the table (plus an extra bowl for shells), I suddenly feel the need to get all gossipy and giggly with my gal friends. There’s nothing like hearing the click of empty shells in a side bowl while discussing the drama of ex-boyfriends and your latest hair fad. Mussels make me even more extroverted than I already am. A big pot of yummy to share amongst friends… who wouldn’t feel more social after that?
Well, let me tell you: The Belgians definitely agree with the Alexandria-eating-mussels transformation. Mussels are a social food in Belgium, too, and it’s not uncommon to see a group of friends sitting at a table, enjoying a hot pot of mussels and fries (moules frites, as they say in French… which is what they speak in Belgium).
These steamed mussels are easy as pie to make and seriously so good. You need virtually no talent as a chef to pull this dish off, but a success will make you look like a cooking GOD to your friends. Seriously, though, if you want to look like the next Gordon Ramsey, make these for your next dinner party.
Preparing the Mussels
First of all, when cooking mussels (in the Northern hemisphere at least), follow the age old adage…. Only eat these delicacies in months with the letter R.
September, October, November, December, January, February, March, and April are all great months to enjoy mussels.
May, June, July, and August, on the other hand, may not produce the freshest product.
Checking for Good Mussels
The most important part about making mussels is that if the mussel shell is open, even a crack, you don’t want to eat it. When you first buy mussels, they’re always alive. If a mussel is dead before you begin cooking it, it is possible for you to get very sick. You want to make sure that you remove all dead mussels before you start the cooking process.
The Tap Test
When a mussel is alive, it tends to be shut up tight within its shell. The dead mussels will be open so that you can see the interior. If you see an open mussel shell, perform the tap test. Tap the mussel on the edge of the sink. If the shell closes up when you tap it, the mussel is alive. If you tap the shell and nothing happens, the mussel is dead, which means that you should throw the mussel away. Again, eating a dead mussel will make you sick, so take care to separate them accordingly.
Cleaning the Mussels
Once you’ve separated the good from the bad, make sure to clean them well before cooking. Sometimes simply rinsing the mussels off doesn’t remove all of the unwanted dirt. Mussels can carry barnacles or sand, and you want to make sure that all of this is gone before you throw the shells in a pot.
In the sink, put all of the shells in a strainer. Have a large bowl off to the side. Take each mussel individually and scrub it clean with a scrub brush or, as Mama Foreign Fork used, a toothbrush. Depending on where you get your mussels, they may still have the “beard” on them. The “beard” is a line of hair that runs from the opening of the mussel. Simply pull on this lightly to remove it. Continue scrubbing each mussel with a stiff scrub brush until they are clean. They are now ready to eat!
Cooking the Mussels
This part is easy… just follow the instructions below! When I cooked mussels for the first time, I was concerned because the meat inside the shells appeared to be a beige color instead of the orange that I was accustomed to. As the mussels cook and touch the air, the colors will continue to deepen, so a few minutes after cooking, they may still be developing their orange color.
If, however, your mussels don’t ever turn orange, do not fear. The orange ones are female, whereas the pale ones are male! Both are perfectly safe to eat.
Enjoying Your Meal
You have a couple of different options for how to enjoy your cooked mussels. My favorite way is with a nice, hearty piece of crusty bread. If you really want to enjoy your mussels the Belgian way, cook up some Belgian Frites to go with them! You can also just eat them straight from the pot… That’s the way I did it when I recipe tested, and it did NOT disappoint.
This recipe is a fantastic way to enjoy a top notch Belgian meal. And once all of your friends start calling you Mrs./Mr. Ramsey, I’m going to need a letter of gratitude, please and thank you….. or a comment on this post will suffice. If you liked this seafood recipe, also check out my recipe for my Caribbean Seafood Salad from Antigua and Barbuda or this Dopeaja with Shrimp from Bangladesh. Thanks for stopping by! I’ll see you on Sunday for some awesome Belgian Fries!
Mussels Steamed in Wine and Cream (Belgium)
- 1 ½ lb fresh mussels cleaned
- 1 handful parsley
- 5 oz cream
- 2 cup white wine
- 4 shallots chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- Lemon slices
- Clean the mussels thoroughly (read above for more thorough instructions on how to do so).
- In a large pan, heat butter and cook shallots until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add white wine.
- Add mussels and cover with a lid.
- After about 3 minutes, remove the mussels from the liquid to a serving dish.
- Add cream and chopped parsley to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Pour hot sauce over the mussels and serve immediately with fresh, crusty bread or frites. Enjoy!