Moules marinières

Almost every year since I met my companion, I’ve been going to the Braderie de Lille, which is dear to his heart. This is the largest flea market in Europe. It occurs yearly all over Lille, usually during the first week-end of September.

It is a flea market all right, but I’d say people don’t care much about buying stuff ; most of them just walk around, a beer in hand, laughing at highly inebriated people all around who sing and shout and dance, sometimes wearing disguises. Aside from inhabitants selling their old tables, kitchenware and whatnot, shopkeepers will often have an outside booth where they’ll showcase their produce, with massive discounts. There’s also food and drinks everywhere.

Besides beer (Northerners love their ale), there is one thing you’ll find on every street  : les moules-frites !! Each year, 500 tons of mussels and 30 tons of French fries are sold at the Braderie. Yes, tons ! Many different recipes are offered, from Moules Poulettes (mussels with a rich cream sauce) to mussels with chorizo.

But the classic one is Moules Marinières. This dish is so simple to make ! Yet, if you prepare your mussels correctly and buy them in season, they only need a few condiments to shine.

In France, for example, the Moules du Bouchot, the tastiest ones, should be consumed between July and February ; please find out the best season for your local mussels ! If you cannot, ask me and I’ll check for you.

I must say I am too lazy to make proper French fries to go with it though. If you want the dish on the table quickly, and with less calories, just make fries using your Air Fryer or your oven, like I do. It will make for a simple, tasty and healthy dish.

Moules marinières – Recipe

Picking and storing your mussels – Pieces of advice

  • It is important to buy your mussels in season, and to prepare them quickly after buying (within 48 hours at most ; 24 hours ideally).
  • Once home, remove the mussels from the plastic bag. Place in an unsealed bowl or container.
    Cover with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel. Remember: never store in water!
  • Store in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper.

Mussels are fragile, because they are still alive when you buy them, and must remain so until cooked. You cannot freeze them, for example, else they’d die.

Prepping your mussels – Key points

  • When washing your mussels, be sure to not leave them in the water for too long, and always keep them moving. This way they won’t lose their flavour.
  • The best way to go is to fill a clean sink with water, drop the mussels, make circular motions for about 1 minute, then remove.
  • While checking each mussel for beards and barnacles (see instructions), it is very important thay you discard any opened or broken mussel.
  • When you have your mussels ready in your plate, do not eat any of those that did not open ; throw them away.

Now you’re all set !

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 25 min Cook Time 10 min Total Time 35 mins
Servings: 2
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


Plump, juicy mussels doused in shallots (lots of it) and garlic, with a pleasant acidity kick from the wine and the freshness of the parsley.

Give me some fries with it, and I'm sold ! 



  1. Washing time

    In a clean sink half filled with water, drop your mussels.

    Wash the mussels for a minute, making circular motions. Then remove. 

    You can also wash them in a very large salad bowl, but it will be trickier.
  2. Check your mussels one by one

    Remove the beards, if any, by pinching it and pulling towards the hinge until removed (since making the video, I saw I was pulling the wrong way : pull it towards the hinge of the mussel, not the opened part).

    Remove any barnacle with a knife. (see video)

    Discard any opened or broken mussel.

  3. Chop chop !

    Thinly mince your shallots and your garlic.

    Chop up your parsley.

  4. Let's cook !

    Put your butter into a medium to large pot and allow it to melt (low-medium heat).

    Add your shallots and garlic, salt a little, and fry for about 4 minutes. Don't let it color, they must remain translucent.   

    Add a glass of white wine.

    Add your mussels carefully, then stir and cover. Cook on medium to high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring halfway.

    Turn off the heat as soon as the mussels start to open for the best texture.

    Remove from heat. Add your parsley and some black pepper, stir. 

    Serve immediately with french fries. 

    Et voilà !! You're done ! 

    Your mussels might take less than 5-6 minutes to open, depending on their type, size and the power of your stove. Check them every 2 or 3 minutes !


  • Be careful not to eat any of the mussels that did not open during the cooking time ; throw them away.
  • Give each one an empty bowl next to their plate, to discard the shells once the mussel is eaten. 
Keywords: home made, mussels, shellfish, french, healthy, french fries, moules marinières

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