Mussels are among the world’s greatest aphrodisiacs. Although they don’t get the same sort of credit, they are on a par with oysters–the ultimate aphrodisiac of the sea. And although mussels are rarely enjoyed raw in the same way as oysters are classically served, they’re tremendously easy to cook.
In fact, what most people who don’t cook also don’t happen to know is that steaming mussels in white wine is one of the easiest things you can make for a romantic meal. The mussels cook in their own little vessels, basically create their own brine-y sauce. The ultimate one-pot dish of seduction, it is all but guaranteed to impress the pants (quite literally) off of anyone who loves seafood and has no idea how to cook shellfish.
Get the right ingredients–and don’t forget the bread!
For this mussels in white wine recipe, you should cook with a wine you want to drink. In other words, do not make steamed mussels with anything called “cooking wine.” In fact, I recommend serving the rest of the bottle with the finished dish.
For steamed mussels in white wine, a lighter white works the best. Something light and refreshing and not too expensive like a Vinho Verde is a solid choice. But an un-oaked California or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will also fit the bill nicely. To this recipe I add the aphrodisiac of tarragon to give the broth an herbal zing. Do not feel tempted to skip the tarragon.
Lastly, you must, must serve this dish with crusty bread to soak up the sauce. I like a French, country loaf but a baguette also works. If you want the added libido-boosting nutrition of a whole wheat or seeded bread, go for it. Just be sure that it’s crusty and served in abundant portions. Without the bread, you’re leaving behind the magical elixir of the mussel broth. And in my estimation, that’s half the aphrodisiac goodness in the dish.
Steamed Mussels in White Wine Tarragon Broth
- 1 pound mussels
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoons tarragon finely chopped
- crusty bread for dipping
- Remove beards from mussels, then rinse, discarding any mussels that don’t shut when tapped.
- Heat the olive oil in a stock pot. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Pour in the white wine and bring to a boil before adding the mussels.
- Cover and cook until the mussels have opened, about 6 minutes.
- Remove the mussels from the pot, discarding any that have not opened. Set aside.
- Add the butter and tarragon to the pot, stirring until butter is completely melted.
- Pour broth over mussels and serve with a side of crusty bread.
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