Mussels in White Wine Butter Sauce

Source: Micki Seibel, February 2006

Source: Micki Seibel, February 2006

As I discuss in more detail in my post for Mussels in Coconut Broth, I highly recommend using the green-lipped mussels from New Zealand. For one, they are exceptional in size and meatiness, typically around 55% meat by weight (compared to 25% for blue mussels). Second, they are sustainably raised, and The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide rates them as a Best Choice because they are raised in an environmentally responsible way.


  • 2 lbs mussels (assume 1 lb per person)
  • 2 tbsp butter (or Earth Balance if you are dairy averse)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic glove, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, quartered


  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until the shallot is soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the wine, turn heat to hight, and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the mussels. Cover and let steam for 5 minutes.
  5. Place mussels into a serving bowl, pour the liquid broth over them. Discard any mussels that did not open. They were dead when they went into the pot. Do not serve them.
  6. Garnish with the parsley and lemon wedges and serve.

How Not to Screw It Up

  1. By steaming mussels, the heat forces the live mussel to open it’s shell to cool itself off. Then…wham…they get cooked. If the mussel never opened it means it was dead before it hit the pot. DO NOT force it open and eat it. This is one way people get sick from shellfish. You couldn’t tell it was dead before you steamed it, but you sure can now. Discard it.
  2. A great tip that I’ve learned to increase the number of live ones that meet my pot is to open the bag of mussels as soon as I get home from the store to let them breath. In fact, you can ask your fishmonger to leave air in the bag for the transport home. Give them breathing room, and definitely leave that bag open and in your refrigerator until you are ready to use them (which I STRONGLY recommend be the same day you bought them).
  3. It’s really more tasty and better looking to your guests if you pull the beards off the mussels before you cook. These beards are how the mussels attach themselves to things and eating them is kind of like eating a brillow pad.

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