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Fish is the fastest food of all, as well as which it is really healthy and not too expensive when it’s in season. Folk wisdom has it that mussels are in season any time with an ‘r’ in the month, so that’s easy enough and if we are talking fast food, they are just the thing. Moules marinière is a classic dish and my children love it, especially when they get a nice plate of chips alongside it.


  • 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)

  • 50g butter

  • 2 tablespoons 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


  • 1.

    Clean the mussels under cold running water, scrub them and pull off the gritty beards. Discard any that are open and do not close as you press on them.

  • 2.

    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.

  • 3.

    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.

  • 4.

    Discard any mussels that have remained closed and then, with a large slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to deep plates.

  • 5.

    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.

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