Mussels – the easiest seafood to cook at home. They require very little prep, other ingredients or time. Mussels in Sherry Basil Cream can be served as an appetizer in portioned bowls or plonk the whole pan down in the middle of the table & let everyone dig in, tearing off chunks of crusty bread to dip into the creamy, garlic sauce.Jump to Recipe
There are some points to note when cooking mussels & the first one is storage: if you’re not going to cook the mussels as soon as you get them home from the store then tumble them into a stainless or glass bowl, cover them a damp cloth & store them in the fridge – don’t place them in water.
They can be stored like this for up to two days. When you’re ready to cook them, get the mussels & the rest of the ingredients prepped & ensure you have a large pan to cook them in – a wok or a deep frying pan works best – just make sure you have a lid. There are some points to note about mussels:
- there are many different varieties of mussels – including fresh & salt water
- generally, the black mussels are farmed
- it’s thought the white-fleshed mussels are male & the orange-fleshed mussels are female, although this is is disputed
- mussels can be baked, steamed, boiled, barbecued & fried
- almost any flavor profile will complement mussels – French, Italian, Thai, Indian…Australian!
- mussels are considered healthy – low in calories (about 145 per 3 oz); high in protein; low in carbs; low in fat & a good source of selenium, B12, zinc & folate
- cultivated mussels can produce a pearl
- before just you cook mussels, remove the beard, if there is one, that’s the hairy tentacle looking thing protruding from its shell; discard any broken shelled mussels & any that don’t close when you tap them before cooking – mussels are live (unless they’re frozen)
- when cooked, the general rule is to discard any mussels that don’t open from a safety perspective but this has been proven to be false, you can try to open any that aren’t open or throw them if this proves too difficult
- to eat a mussel still in its shell – prize it open & use the half of the shell without the mussel on it to dislodge it from the muscle holding it onto the shell, then scoop up some of the sauce & suck it off the shell
- in the northern hemisphere a general ‘rule’ is to not eat mussels without the letter ‘r’ in the month – for safety reasons & because of spawning – but this depends where they’re from (colder waters of Canada versus the warm Florida waters). May is perfectly okay time of year to enjoy them
- mussels take about two years to grow to edible size & can, apparently, live up to 50 years
Regardless of your kitchen prowess this is a simple recipe. With only a few ingredients – butter, onion, garlic, chili paste, dry sherry, basil & cream – Mussels in Sherry & Basil Cream, is prepped & ready to eat in 20 minutes. Fill the wine glasses, pop the pan down on a trivet (of some kind) in the middle of the of the table, break bread & enjoy. Cheers, Lovoni
mussels in sherry & basil cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 large white onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- pinch salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon sambal oelek chili paste, add more to suit your taste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, cut chiffonade (finely shredded) plus extra for garnish
- 3 lbs live mussels, cleaned & beards removed (1.5kg)
- crusty bread to serve
- Melt the butter in a wok or large deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes or until the onion is softened.
- Add the wine & sambal. Increase the head to medium-high & boil gently, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by about half. Add the cream & half the basil; bring to a simmer.
- Add the mussels & stir. Cook, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring twice during cooking, or until the mussels are opened & tender. Do not overcook; discard any unopened mussels.
- Stir in the remaining basil. Serve immediately garnished with extra basil & crusty bread .