I've gone on record as saying that mussels are the easiest choose-your-own-adventure one-pot meal around, and I intend to prove it to you. This version uses my standard steamed mussel technique and combines it with the classic flavors of a French bouillabaisse. Fennel, saffron, and tomatoes are cooked together with a little pastis and orange zest to form an aromatic, briny broth for dipping bread into.
'mussel' on Serious Eats
Mussels are the easiest choose-your-own-adventure one-pot meal around, and I intend to prove it to you. This version uses my standard steamed mussel technique and combines it with flavors from Central Thailand to create a dish whose basic process is pretty much identical to the French version, but whose end results are entirely different.
A pot of classic French Moules Marinières is fast food at its best. Made with fresh, inexpensive ingredients that still seem celebratory, this dish comes together in around 15 minutes from start to finish. Make sure to serve it with the rest of the wine left in the bottle and with plenty of toasted bread for dipping into the garlicky, briny broth.
Here's yet another winning recipe from Renee Erickson's new cookbook, A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus. She cooks her mussels in hard cider with shallots, butter, and Dijon mustard, and finishes them with uplifting and enriching lemon juice and crème fraîche, and a good amount of whole tarragon leaves, which perfume the delicious broth.
Jeff Koehler wrote the cookbook on paella. Literally. So I was keen to try out the paella recipes in his new cookbook, Spain. His shellfish paella is based on a recipe from his mother-in-law, who has been making this particular pan of rice every weekend for close to 50 years; for a paella newbie like myself, it seemed like a well-tested place to start.
A quick stew of mussels with onions, peppers, and tomatoes.
Mussels are pretty much my default shellfish. They're easy to cook, easy to eat, and taste of little more than the sweet, briny ocean. In Ben Sargent's Mussels Fra Diavolo from his new cookbook, The Catch, the usual diavolo players (chili flakes, tomatoes, white wine) are present, but it's the uncommon addition of roasted garlic that makes the dish memorable.
An easy version of cippino, the classic San Francisco fisherman's stew with tomatoes, wine, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and fish.
This quick and easy seafood pasta recipe combines both fresh clams and mussels along with sweet cherry tomatoes and includes tips to ensure your seafood is fresh and prepared properly.
According to Rachel Allen, mussels with bread crumbs were immensely popular in Ireland back in the 1980s. Yet their retro appeal holds true today and her version in Rachel's Irish Family Food, is anything but kitschy. In it, plump, just-steamed mussels get a quick trip under a hot broiler topped with super buttery breadcrumbs laced with garlic and parsley. The final result is a briny, succulent bite, colorful and rich.
Mussels and shrimp in a curry-scented coconut broth flavored with cilantro and chilies. Dinner for two with one skillet in 25 minutes or less.
Mussels are one of those easy dinners that can so easily get overlooked when bombarded by quick-cooking fish fillets and chicken breasts at the market. But mussels are just as quick and easy (if not easier) to prepare than fish, and they're a year-round sustainable source of seafood. Pop them in a pot of flavorful broth, and they'll be done before you can set the table. Adding even more reason to pick up a couple of pounds of shellfish is the Red Curry Mussels with Kimchi from Lauryn Chun's new Kimchi Cookbook. Here, she swaps in kimchi for more traditional lemongrass in a coconut-red curry sauce. The kimchi brings funk, spice, and salinity to the broth, enhancing the creamy brininess of the mussels.
Rendered chorizo adds great flavor and heat to this quick dinner dish.
Aside from mussels, there are few other seafoods that so easily lend themselves to quick cooking, and even faster eating. After all, to manipulate a mound of mussels into a meal, a simple steam in broth or other flavorful liquid is all that is needed to pop the bivalves open. But fast doesn't have to be bland. In fact, I find the Belgian method of steaming mussels with a white ale (or any beer really) to be of the utmost flavor—especially when the whole mess is embellished with crunchy bacon.
Sweet, plump onyx mussels get stewed with olive oil, tender shallots, woodsy thyme, Sauvignon Blanc, rich cream, and pungent, sharp, blue Roquefort. I serve it with ice cold dry, hard apple or pear cider from the north of France.
Seashore mussels are stewed in a simple but exotic broth of coconut milk, lime, cilantro, lemongrass, and chilies. Spooned over rice noodles, there is nothing better than this easy, exotic one-pot classic.
[Photograph: Blake Royer] Adapted from Lucid Food. About the author: Blake Royer is a food writer, photographer, and filmmaker based in Chicago; he has been writing for Serious Eats since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter @blakeroyer....
There are essentially two ways to approach this dish. The first is as a straightforward, satisfying mussel dish with a pretty good broth. Though certainly not my absolute favorite way to cook bivalves, it's tasty and ultimately worthy as a quick weeknight dinner. Not to mention, it's also a Ferran Adrià-approved recipe from his latest cookbook, The Family Meal, which means there are some high expectations.
A big steamy pot of creamy mussels soaked in two different kinds of mustard, shallots, leeks, garlic, thyme, and wine. Make sure to buy lots of baguettes to soak up this broth.