Steamed Mussels With White Wine And Garlic

One of the great things about living in Maine, is that an “economical” dinner can often include steamed lobster, clams, or in this case, mussels. A two-pound bag of mussels is $2.99, and, served with a crusty baguette for dipping, is plenty of food for a light dinner for two.

Most mussels are sold still alive; give them a quick rinse and check to see if any still have their “beards,” the tough fibers that attach the mussels to the rock. These can be pulled off by hand or cut with a paring knife. Check to also make sure that all of your mussels are still alive before cooking; any open shells that don’t close after a few squeezes are dead, and should be discarded.

Steamed Mussels with White Wine and Garlic


  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 large shallots, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds mussels
  • Handful of mixed fresh herbs, including parsley, or basil, chopped
  • 1 stick of salted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


Combine wine, shallots, garlic, and salt in a stock pot over medium heat. Simmer five minutes. Add mussels. Turn heat to high and cook, covered, until mussels open, about five minutes. Add herbs, butter, and mustard, and toss to mix well. Serve immediately over pasta or with a loaf of crusty bread for mopping.

Our “Classics” series tackles some of our favorite dishes from Maine’s rich culinary tradition. You can think of them as “traditional” dishes, or more accurately, things you might have had for hot lunch in the fourth grade, had you attended St. George Elementary. To read more from this series, click here.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road." He currently owns and operates the Ancho Honey restaurant in Maine.


  1. I saw Andrew Zimmern’s (bizarre food) Maine episode and nearly wept with envy. I knew Maine was beautiful and all, but I hadn’t considered the access to inexpensive seafood.

    1. It’s really true. We have had nights where we couldn’t figure out what to get for dinner, and didn’t want to spend a ton of money, where going to the supermarket and getting a lobster was an inexpensive solution.

    1. We were pressed for time, so, as much as we wanted to drive around and get different ingredients from different places, these just came from Hannaford. They were pretty good!

  2. Congratulations, and thanks for posting about the food scene in Maine. Mussels, baguette, and white wine, one of our favorites. Keep up the good work!

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