This easy and elegant mussel recipe comes from chef Hélène Darroze’s family in the southwestern French commune of Langon. The meaty bivalves are richer than clams and more substantial than oysters. Both lemons and limes brighten the dish with acidity, and Piment d’Espelette adds a hit of spice.

Featured in: “Biarritz and the Cuisine of the Sun.”

Mussels with Herbed Vinaigrette (Moules Vinaigrette) Mussels with Herbed Vinaigrette (Moules Vinaigrette)
Some fresh herbs are all you need for this pot of mussels.
Yield: serves 4-6
Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 tbsp. rendered duck fat or vegetable oil
  • 6 whole shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 12 lb. mussels, cleaned
  • 1 12 cups dry white wine
  • 23 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 whole chives, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. tarragon leaves, finely chopped
  • Rind of 1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt
  • Piment d’Espelette


  1. In a large pot, warm the duck fat over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to medium high, add the mussels and wine, cover, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels open, 3–5 minutes. Discard any that do not open.
  2. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a cutting board. Pour the cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a small pot and scrape the shallots and garlic into a medium bowl. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to 3⁄4 cup, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the reduction cool completely.
  3. Pour 1⁄4 cup of the reduction into the reserved shallots and garlic; stir in the olive oil, chives, parsley, tarragon, lemon rind, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and piment d’Espelette.
  4. Remove and discard the empty top shells from each mussel and transfer the bottoms to a serving platter. Spoon the vinaigrette over the mussels and serve immediately.

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