Fish is the Dish, Fish Fanatics and How to Cook Mussels without Fear!

Moules Frites

Now is the ideal time to buy mussels (moules) – and there is no better way to enjoy them than to make a classic Moules Marinière and serve them with frites (chips).  I adore Moules Frites – for me it is quintessential French and Belgian Bistro food at its best – plus I love tactile eating. You can treat yourself to Moules Frites anywhere in France and Belgium, and for most of the year; but when the craving comes over me, I often make the “Moules” part at home, and now and then for a treat, I also do the “Frites” bit as well!  Serve these with lots of paper towels or napkins, and a glass of chilled white wine would be the perfect accompaniment. I treated myself to some special Moules Frites dishes, as shown in the photos, but a couple of bowls would be fine – and don’t forget a large bowl for the shells. If you really want to be 100% authentic, it is de rigueur to serve the frites with mayonnaise my dear…..sinfully good! Vive la France! Historical Note: Did you know that French Fries are really Belgian? Deep-fried chipped potatoes (“fries” in American English; “chips” in British English) are a very popular food item – and one which the Belgians claim to have invented. They are called frieten in Dutch and frites in French, whatever the name, they are my guilty pleasure.

– Fish is the Dish –

I love the Fish is the Dish website and I was recently fortunate enough to be made one of their Fish Fanatics, which is great, as I am a fanatical about fish and as a family, we eat fish or seafood at least two or three times a week. As well as being fish fanatic, I am also an avid amateur food photographer, and I often enter the photo competitions on the Fish is the Dish site….. and I was lucky enough to win the December’s competition with the moules frites photo that is shown at the head of this page… prize? A hamper of fish ! It’s a wonderful way to highlight your fishy photos and they always have some lovely prizes up for grabs too. This month’s prize is  to win a copy of the books Economy Gastronomy & Fish’ N ‘Tips……so, why don’t you post our fish photo now and be in with a chance of winning these two interesting books.

How to Cook Mussels without Fear!

I am always surprised how many people profess to be nervous about preparing and cooking with mussels, and so I have prepared a few “tutorial” photos to help you cook mussels without fear, as well as making a delectable and SEASONAL seafood dish that can be enjoyed at home, and in the manner of a atmospheric seafood shack if you light a few candles and light a wood fire. Edith Piaf would not come amiss either, as long as she is on vinyl.  I hope you enjoy my Moules Frites – French/Belgian Bistro Style Mussels and Chips recipe, and that you find the photos helpful. See you tomorrow, and have a Fabulous and Fishy Friday!  Karen

Moules Frites – French/Belgian Bistro Style Mussels and Chips

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Recipe Type: Fish and Seafood Main Course

Author: Karen S Burns-Booth

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Serves: 2

I adore moules, mussels, and this is the classic French recipe for them. Moules Marinières is also commonly known as Sailor’s mussels or Mariner’s mussels. The dish consists of delicately steamed fresh mussels in a white wine, garlic, parsley, butter, onion and cream sauce. Moules Marinières can be served as an appetising starter or even a light main meal. It is delicious served with fresh crusty bread or with frites (chips/fries). There is nothing more mouth-watering than a huge bowl of artistically presented mussels, yet the fun part is eating them. The best way is to use an empty mussel shell as the “spoon” in which to pick the remaining mussels from their shells and then eat them. It’s a brilliant excuse to use your fingers to eat rather than the usual knife and for – very tactile! A traditional French recipe will use butter, however the butter may be substituted for a few tablespoons of olive oil for a healthier option – I sometimes use a mix of butter and olive oil – hopefully, the photos will debunk the myth that mussels are hard to prepare and cook, NOT so! Bon Appétit!”


  • Moules:
  • 1 kg fresh mussels
  • 1 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
  • 50g butter, or 50 ml olive oil
  • 150 ml dry white wine, such as Muscadet
  • 1 teaspoon Pernod (optional) or 1 teaspoon pastis (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • Frites:
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • oil, for deep frying


  1. Frites/Chips: Slice the potato into thin strips (2mm x 2mm) and rinse in salted water. Heat a deep fat fryer to 325°F/160°C (preferably using sunflower or groundnut oil). Place the frites/chips in and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  2. Moules/Mussels: Place the live mussels in fresh water. Scrub and debeard the mussels (see the photos), discarding any that are open, broken or cracked. (Fresh mussels look black and shiny and should only smell pleasantly of the deep sea – the vast majority should be tightly closed. Avoid any that smell ‘fishy’, look dry or are mostly open.)
  3. Place the chopped onion, shallot and garlic in a saucepan with the olive oil, gently sweat them over a low to medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until slightly soft.
  4. Add the chopped herbs, and pernod or pastis if using and mix with the onion mixture.
  5. Add the washed mussels to the pan and cover with dry white wine, bring slowly to the boil, then simmer gently whilst stirring. Continue until the mussels have opened – discard any that do not open, this can take between 2 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the creme fraiche if using, mixing through the cooked and opened mussles. Cover until the frites/chips are cooked.
  7. Whilst the moules are cooking, turn up the deep fryer to 375°F/190°C and salt the frites/chips. Add the frites/chips back to the oil for around 1 minute until golden and crispy.
  8. Serve the moules in a deep bowl with the frites/chips on the side – providinf plenty of napkins and a large bowl for the shells.
  9. Note – to make the best frites/chips your uncooked frites/chips should be washed in cold water and dried thoroughly before cooking.