Moules à la Marinière – Mussels with White Wine and Meyer Lemon




While it is bitterly cold outside and the sun hasn’t shone for days, I’m in a rather chipper mood. And the reason is because I came across some Meyer lemons at Hiller’s Market, a grocery store here in Ann Arbor. Some might have thought I was estatic. All’s I gotta say is, if you’ve never jumped up and down in the produce aisle, you really ought to. Hell of a good time.

As the cashier was ringing up my groceries, he picked up the Meyer lemons, looking a little confused.

Are these oranges or lemons?

I grab the lemons and hold them up to his nose

They’re lemons, dude. Smell them!

Uh…that’s okay.

No, SMELL them. They’re a-mazing!

He sorta smells them and then nonchalantly continues to ring them up. I’m thinking, What? No Oh, my God, you’re right, no You have saved my life. I get nothing from him. Fine, more for me, then.

I always make a lemon tart with these first Meyers of the season. I thought I’d go savory this time around and made a dish I first had in Brussels on a backpacking trip. I was backpacking alone then and this weirdo starting following me for at least half an hour as I was walking into town. I must have looked scared because this other Belgian guy came up to me and asked me if I was okay. I told him I was fine but I thought maybe this man was following me. He told me not to worry and walked with me to my destination to make sure I was safe. When we arrived, I thanked him and he went on his way. His name was Bruno. I think Bruno’s a good name for a boy, don’t you?

Right, the dish. I’ve made this dish often, yet I’m still amazed how easy it is. Cook some shallots in a little butter, add wine (and lemon juice, in this case). Toss the mussels into the pan and steam. In minutes, you have perfectly cooked mussels bathed in a fragrant broth that you can mop up with some crusty bread. Bruno would approve.





adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

INGREDIENTS: (6-8 servings )

  • 6 Tbl. butter
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1 cup light, dry white wine
  • 1 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 8 parsley sprigs
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 6 quarts cleaned, scrubbed mussels (& soaked in water for at least 30 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • zest of 1 Meyer lemon


  • Heat a large kettle/pot on med-high and add the butter and shallots. Cook for approx. 1 minute.
  • Add the wine, lemon juice, parsley sprigs and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil and let boil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the mussels to the kettle. Cover tightly and boil quickly over high heat. Frequently grasp the kettle with both hands, your thumbs clamped to the cover, and toss the mussels in the kettle with an up and down slightly jerky motion so the mussels will change levels and cook evenly. In about 5 minutes the shells will open and the mussels are done.
  • With a big skimmer (or chopsticks), dip the mussels into wide soup plates or bowls. Allow the cooking liquid to settle for a moment so any sand will sink to the bottom. Then ladle the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.


Bon appétit!

21 Responses to “Moules à la Marinière – Mussels with White Wine and Meyer Lemon”

  1. Maria Says:

    Ah, but what about the frites? Don’t mussels demand frites? And are they really any good if you bake them in the oven?

  2. Jim M Says:

    Be sure to let us know next time you’re going to Hiller’s so we can watch you jump for joy! As for the Meyer lemons, they are indeed a treat. I had them as part of a tempura seafood dish (they were fried too) at the Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Alabama, which Gourmet once designated the fifth-best restaurant in the country. At the time I had never heard of them, and I was so struck by the taste I had to ask what it was I was eating.

  3. Mandy Says:

    ah!!!!!lucky you! I must peel my eyes open the next time I hit the market. I hope there will be some here soon.

  4. Warda Says:

    Bruno would certainly approve. I looooooove mussels mariniere. I can eat the whole bowl all by my self. But Maria is right! Qui dit moules, dit frites! But then, you would break “the healthy diet” law, and we’re only Tuesday. 😉

  5. Alejandra Says:

    I am obsessed with Meyer lemons and like you I tend to torture those around me extolling the virtues of it. I enjoyed your market story because it’s exactly what I would have done! lol

    I’m excited about this Moules recipe. Moules Mariniere is one of my favorite things in the world. I would definitely serve this with frites and perhaps a Meyer Lemon Mayo for dipping them in. Mmmm mmm

  6. holybasil Says:

    Maria – yes, you caught me… les moules sans frites – shame on me 😦 No, I don’t think I want baked frites here – they’re no longer frites if they’re baked, in my view.
    Jim- haha. I’ll put word on CH next time… I’ve never been to Highlands but it sounds great. How were the lemons prepared for the tempura dish? Were they thinly sliced rounds or thin strips? I’d love to try it.
    Mandy- Can’t wait to see what you do with your meyer lemons.
    Salut Warda! I can also eat a whole bowl/kettle by myself. Oui, j’ai oublié les frites – mais, qu’est-ce qu’on peut faire?
    Alejandra – I know, I know – les frites. Next time, I’ll get it right. Oooh – Meyer Lemon Mayo – you read my mind, girlfriend! I was planning on making that this week.

  7. Jen Says:

    When we rented the house in the Hood in Pasadena (Altadena, really), there was an awesome Meyer lemon bush in our front yard. I went nuts harvesting it in winter. Now I’ve got nothin’. Well, I have Whole Paycheck, but you know what I mean. I love the smell of the oils that linger on your hands after cooking with those lemons. This dish, while enticing and lovely, stirs sad emotions within me, Christine. Fresh mussels and Meyer lemons… I hesitate here in Landlocked World. 🙂 Maybe if I came to your house? 😉 Btw, your photos, as always, are stunning.

  8. Terry B Says:

    This recipe sounds lovely, but what’s truly delicious are your amazing photographs.

  9. Jim M Says:

    Christine–I think you would like the Highlands; it would appeal to your cross-cultural instincts. The chef was from a small Alabama town but was trained in France, and he said he was aiming for a cuisine halfway between Mississippi and Provence. Birmingham is an unusually good restaurant town–chefs who have worked under this guy (his name escapes me) have gone out and opened their own places.

    The lemons were cut into thin discs. That was part of the charm–I thought I was eating some kind of vegetable but couldn’t place it at all.

  10. holybasil Says:

    Jen – You, Jeremy and Kaweah will *always* have a room [and yard to play in] here 🙂
    How nice it was to have your own crop of meyer lemons. We used to get bags and bags of them from a neighbor. We ran out of things to do and eventually cleaned out sinks and cutting boards with them. I shudder at the thought now.
    And yes, Whole Paycheck is really Whole Month Income Before Taxes.
    I knew you’d know how I felt about these silly lemons – you described it precisely – it’s that lingering perfume from the oils – I can’t even bring myself to wash my hands afterwards. Remember Molly Shannon’s skit on SNL when she sniffs her fingers? – that’s me with the lemons! I’m happy you liked the photos – extreme low light situation I had.

    Terry- Thanks for your kind comments.

    Jim – Now you’ve really got me wanting to eat at Highlands. Where exactly is halfway between Miss. and Provence? 🙂
    Is it an island where one can find cornbread made with olive oil and lavender? Or socca with chitlins?

  11. Cindy Says:

    I wanna dip my bread into that yummy delicious sauce!

  12. Toni Says:

    Just discovered your site courtesy of Terry B’s. I’m floored by your photography, and you’ve reminded me of a dish I had completely forgotten about. I adore Moules Marniere! And I have a Meyer lemon tree in my backyard. And yes, they are enough to make one jump up and down in a produce aisle! (That’s why I decided to grow one instead!!)

  13. katy Says:

    i had a meyer lemon risotto at BLT fish that was out of this world — i’m hooked on meyer lemons for the foreseeable future. and mussels are one of my favorites! i could eat that picture. 🙂

  14. holybasil Says:

    Jim- Thank you very much for the link. I will let you know when I get to Birmingham and try this place.
    Cindy – Thanks, dear!
    Toni- Thank you for your kind comments. I envy your meyer lemon tree! Why can’t you be my neighbor? 🙂
    Katy- oh wow, meyer lemon risotto sounds perfect right now. Thanks for the great idea. I have a million dessert recipes and I’m always looking for more savory ways to use this.
    Shayne – Thanks – hopefully we’ll get together this summer for a seafood feast 🙂
    RasaMalaysia – Wow, I’ve never harvested fresh mussels. Hmm, I wonder if it’s like picking strawberries – which was fun for like, the first 15 minutes and then became back-breaking and not that fun?

  15. Shayne Says:

    I have been dreaming about mussels for a month now. I love them and this looks great.

  16. Rasa Malaysia Says:

    I loooooove mussels…used to “harvest” them from the bay area, but I can’t find anywhere I can “harvest” here in SoCal.
    Anyway, I need to make a mussel dish like ASAP. Have been wanting to test out a recipe in a cookbook.

  17. mycookinghut Says:

    J’adore les moules marinières! Lors de notre week end à Bruxelles nous en avons mangés énormément ! Nous ne pouvions pas quittés Bruxelles sans un déjeuner avec des moules !
    Les moules marinières que vous a cuisinées ont l’air fantastique! Je veux en manger tout de suite !

  18. Hillary Says:

    Those look fabulous and make me regret not trying them in Belgium very very badly. The mussels were supposed to the best there and many places served mussels! Gosh darn it.

  19. holybasil Says:

    Mycookinghut -Oui, nous sommes d’accord! Les moules (avec frites) sont irrestibles pour nous aussi.
    Hillary- Yes, they do have a reputation in Brussels. But the good thing is that it’s easy to make a pretty good version at home.

  20. stephine Says:

    hi look im doing my French home work and i need to ask a question what are des moules mariniere?? and are they eaten alive or dead and do they taste nice?

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