Mussels Steamed in White Wine with Curry and Basil

Published November 1996

Why This Recipe Works

For a steamed mussels recipe that was quick, flavorful, and grit-free, we began with rope-cultured and Great Eastern bottom mussels (a widely available variety), which we found to be the cleanest. Garlic in the broth balanced and enriched the flavor of the mussels. Simmering the broth for a few minutes before adding the mussels beefed up the flavor. When developing our steamed mussels recipe, we found that larger mussels need to cook a few minutes after they open to firm up, but that didn’t create any difficulty for us. It all evened out if we simply cooked them until all the mussels opened.


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2 cups white wine
½ cup minced shallots
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon curry powder (preferably Madras)
4 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

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Serves 4

1. Bring wine, shallots, garlic, parsley, bay leaf and curry powder to simmer in large pot; continue to simmer to blend flavors, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add mussels; cover and cook, stirring twice, until mussels open, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on pot and mussel size.

2. Remove mussels from liquid, twist off and discard top shells, and put in large serving bowl. Meanwhile, add cilantro and basil, then swirl butter into pan liquid to make emulsified sauce. Pour broth over mussels and serve immediately with warm bread or rice.