Steamed Mussels

I have always loved mussels. Seriously, one of my favorite foods. But, my family has never made them–I had only had mussels in restaurants. So, for our family’s Christmas Eve spectacle of food, I decided to try steaming them.

My father volunteered to do the grocery shopping. I love my father, and he is a great cook, but he is not the best with portion control. My mother regularly tells the tale of how for their first Thanksgiving as a couple he bought a 23 pound bird for the two of them. So, when he comes home and hands me this “bag” of mussels, I had no clue what to expect.

There were enough mussels in that bag to feed Brussels. It was nuts. My father claimed to have zero control over this–that apparently the units for mussels are “bags” and that he got the smallest portion he could…mhm. Yeah. Sure. I buy that.

Two things really worked in my favor for this dish:

  1. Mussels take almost zero time to cook. I think with the 80-100 that I had and the inconsistent range I used to steam them…took about 15 minutes of cook time.
  2. The mussels I got were remarkably clean. All I had to do was de-beard them, which with the number I was given still took about 30 minutes (I’m sure with experience I could be more efficient). But, if I had to really scrub them in addition…oy.

One last note: if you have extra broth at the end of this cooking adventure (which…you probably will) save it. We cut it with water and used it to boil pasta–which featured leftovers from the 7 fishes.



  • Mussels
  • Garlic cloves
  • White wine
  • Butter
  • Celery
  • White onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley (for garnish)
  • Bread (for serving)


  1. Clean the mussels, debearding them and discarding any which have cracked shells or which are already open. If you are not cooking the mussels immediately, place them in ice water with a little bit of flour.
    This is a beard. You can just yank them out.
    This is a beard. You can just yank them out.

    This should buy you at least three extra hours.
    This should buy you at least three extra hours.
  2. Chop the celery, garlic and white onion.

    Rough chop is fine
    Rough chop is fine
  3. When ready to cook, place some butter in a large pot and saute the chopped veggies until they are soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Throw in the mussels, add wine (we used a whole bottle for about 80 mussels) and put a lid on it.
  5. Shake the pot and/or remove the lid to stir the mussels every 5 minutes. After 15 minutes, they’re probably as open as they’re going to be (there will be some that never open–THROW THEM OUT).
  6. Strain the mussels, but keep the liquid.

    This is about as creative as I get.
    This is about as creative as I get.
  7. Ladle the mussels and broth into a bowl. Garnish with parsley and serve with fresh bread.