Mussels With Fennel-Saffron Broth Recipe

These mussels deliver all the flavors of bouillabaisse in 15 minutes. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

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.

Why this recipe works:

  • Using our standard mussels technique delivers great flavor and texture in a matter of minutes.
  • Fennel salami, fresh fennel, and saffron flavor a rich tomato broth.

Note: Fennel salami is the best for this recipe, but any hard, dry-cured salami or chorizo will work.

Examine mussels before using. If they're gritty or have lots of beards (it'll look like bits of hair coming out from between their shells), scrub them well under cold water and pull out the beards by grabbing them and pulling towards the hinge-end of the mussels. (More on cleaning and debearding mussels here.) Farm-raised mussels are generally quite clean when they are sold.

When examining, discard cracked mussels or open mussels that don't close when tapped with another mussel.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serves: 3 to 4 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 ounces hard dry fennel salami (see note), diced

  • 1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Pinch saffron

  • Pinch red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 cup pastis or Pernod

  • 1 (2-inch) piece orange zest, white pith removed

  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes

  • 2 pounds mussels (see note)

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon

  • 1 loaf rustic sourdough bread, thickly sliced, drizzled with olive oil, and broiled until heavily toasted


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add salami and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add fennel, onion, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add saffron and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add pastis, orange zest, and tomatoes.

  2. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add mussels, stir, cover, and cook, shaking pan constantly and peeking every 30 seconds to stir. As soon as all the mussels are open, transfer mussels to a bowl using tongs. Place pan lid over bowl to keep mussels warm.

  3. Remove from heat and whisk in parsley, butter, and lemon juice. Return mussels to pot, stir to combine, then transfer to a warm serving bowl. Serve immediately with broiled bread.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
621 Calories
26g Fat
74g Carbs
22g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 621
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 28mg 9%
Sodium 1196mg 52%
Total Carbohydrate 74g 27%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 25mg 125%
Calcium 134mg 10%
Iron 8mg 47%
Potassium 737mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)