A warm heart hug: Mussels in creamy white sauce

Light dinner, Quimple (Quick and simple), Seafood

Lately I’ve been feeling down and cooking and baking have actually made me feel a bit better. Okay that was cheesy. On a scale of nacho cheese to chat up lines, that would be on the extremely cheesy end. Seriously though, cooking time is great reflection and unwinding time for me, so  making something that requires loads of chopping and stirring just like this simple mussels recipe is just perfect.

Cleaning the mussels is quite tedious though. I mean do they really need those beards? They could’ve just had waterproof webs or little exterior fins but of all things in the world, they had to choose annoying straw-like beards. Good thing my mumma was willing to help. After de-bearding, make sure you soak the mussels in cold water until you’re ready to use them. And if they stay open then throw them back into the sea.

This dish is all about freedom! Throw in things, chop them roughly or thinly. Create textures. You want things to sit in the shells when the mussels open up. I like how the sliced onions and parma ham hung out of each shell while the chopped mushrooms and white onions sat inside the shells with the sauce  and the mussel meat. Eat them with your fingers, spoons are unnecessary. Split the shells and scoop up the sauce and everything with the meaty side then slurp. This is probably the only dish where table etiquette is thrown out of the window into the sea with those pre-opened mussels. Don’t think, just do!


  • 1 kg live mussels, thoroughly cleaned and debearded
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Grated knob of ginger
  • 1/4 fresh scotch bonnet chillies, finely chopped
  • 4 slices parma ham, chopped + thickly sliced
  • 4 chestnut mushrooms, diced
  • 3/4 anchovy fillets
  • 400ml water
  • 200 ml skimmed milk
  • 100ml double cream
  • Handful of chives, chopped
  • Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • Salt, paprika and seasonings to taste

In a deep pan, melt the butter and olive oil then add in the onions. Leave for 4 minutes or until they start to look a bit translucent, stirring occasionally.

Now add the garlic, ginger, chillies and parma ham. Stir, mix and make sure everything in the pan’s touching each other and invading their personal space.

Pour in the liquid ingredients, chives and mushrooms then simmer on low/medium heat for 5 minutes. It doesn’t need to boil vigorously.

Now add mussels and stir. They will start to open. Cover and simmer again for 3 minutes then throw in the anchovies, salt, paprika and seasonings to taste.

Cover again and leave for 5 minutes on a low heat.

Turn off the heat then throw in the parsley, stir, then cover and leave to rest until you’re mentally ready to get physical. Enjoy by itself or with crusty bread.

Note: Don’t be put off by the long-ish list of ingredients, I basically just chucked in everything I found in the kitchen. So like with everything in life, work with what you’ve got. You could swap the double cream for single cream or even that can of coconut milk. You know the one that has been in your cupboard for so long, just chilling there like it’s paying the rent. Or even swap parma ham for bacon or flakes of smoked fish. You get the idea.

What’s your comfort food for days when you’re feeling down?

Posted by

Hello, I’m Aisha and I am a foodaholic. If weight gain does not correlate with food intake, my whole life would be about food. I’d eat (more of) it, breathe it, swim (although I can’t swim) in it, drown (since I can’t swim) in it. I’d speak the language of food and my body would be food. I’d probably end up eating myself. My brain is occupied with food thoughts 84.74% of the time. If I didn’t go running at least 4 times a week like I do now then I’d definitely be 90kg or 14 stones or 1000000 stones or more. And I wish I didn’t care because I’d be the happiest fattest person ever as long as I eat good food. So welcome to the virtual food side of my brain and let’s get virtually fat together.

9 thoughts on “A warm heart hug: Mussels in creamy white sauce”

  1. We live on a coast that is famous for its mussels and I eat them as fast food. You’ve written a delicious recipe but mussels are just as good with nothing – just chuck them (cleaned) into a hot, empty pan and put the lid on. 7-10 minutes later they’re cooked in their own juices and are wonderful with a crisp baguette to soak up the juices – some frites are always a welcome addition.


    • You’re so lucky living on the coast! I didn’t even think of just letting it cook in its own juices, I’ll be trying that when next I have we have some. Thank you Roger (:


  2. Idris Kareem says:

    This looks so edible, just so inviting, how long did you cook it for, mmmmm its just so good looking, did you catch the mussels yourself ? wow, simply amazing, i like my mussels with the shell, i do like to gobble them up, that way the crunch from the shell and the soft insides combine to make a heavenly taste, i am cooking this for my wife tonight…mmmmm god bless you for making this amazing dish ! 5/5


  3. Wow! This recipe looks delicious, serve this baby up with linguine, real feast. I don’t know if it’s me but does anyone else find this blog incredibly seductive?


    • Oooh yes!! Linguine sounds like the perfect pair!
      Ha thank you, why do you find it seductive?


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s