With the growing popularity of such film as Master and Commander and In the Heart of Sea, diners have fish and shellfish on their mind this season. And while there are many traditional seafood dishes, modern diners are seeking out the new, the rare, the little known.  

One such dish is Moules Marinières, a little known favorite dish of French sailors for centuries.

Made with fresh, yet inexpensive ingredients that still seem celebratory, this savory dish is restaurant perfect because it comes together in around 15 quick minutes.

Served with wine and plenty of toasted bread for dipping into the garlicky, briny broth, this dish is more than memorable. The recipe’s slow sweating of a trio of alliums (leek, shallot, and garlic) helps to develop their milder flavors while the mussels add their own briny liquid to form a uniquely savory sauce.

Crème fraîche is not essential for this dish, but it adds extra richness and lots of flavor, particularly if served alongside for dipping mussels into.

Moules Marinières


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup hard dry cider or white wine
  • 2 pounds Taylor Mussels (see note above)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons crème fraîche, or heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Additional crème fraîche for serving (optional, see note above)
  • 1 loaf rustic sourdough bread, thickly sliced, drizzled with olive oil, and broiled until heavily toasted
French Sailor Carved Mussel Shell


  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add leeks, shallot, garlic, and bay leave.
  3. Season lightly with salt and heavily with black pepper and cook.
  4. Stir until vegetables are very soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.
  5. Increase heat to high and add cider or wine.
  6. Bring to a boil and let reduce by half, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add mussels, stir, cover, and cook.
  8. Shak3 pan constantly and peeking every 30 seconds to stir.
  9. As soon as all the mussels are open, transfer mussels to a bowl using tongs.
  10. Place pan lid over bowl to keep mussels warm.
  11. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining butter along with crème fraîche (if using).
  12. Return mussels to pot, add parsley, lemon juice, and lemon zest, stir to combine.
  13. Transfer to a warm serving bowl.
  14. Serve immediately with additional mayonnaise (if using) and broiled bread.