Mussels Saint-Ex

Mussels Saint-Ex

This highly-spiced dish is a fun departure for those accustomed to mussels steamed with white wine and herbs. While the dish has bold flavor, it's a mellow and balanced combination, well suited to the briny sweetness of the shellfish. Serve with lots of crusty bread to soak up the savory juices. Sweet paprika can replace the smoked paprika and pepperoni can substitute for the chorizo sausage for a milder dish.

Barton Seaver
Recipe by: Barton Seaver

Author of two cookbooks, chef, speaker and National Geographic Fellow.


(Serves 4 as a main course or hearty appetizer)

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded and patted dry (discard any that won't close)
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 4 ounces dried Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Toasted crusty bread


  1. Grind the fennel seeds in a mortar with a pestle or in a spice mill. Place in a blender or food processor. Add the oil, shallot, garlic, paprika and coriander. Process until the mixture is ground and paste-like.
  2. Transfer the spice mixture to a heavy large pot. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic and shallots no longer smell raw, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add the mussels and cook without stirring until the shells on the bottom begin to open, about 3 minutes. Add the wine. Cover the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the mussels open, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the chorizo and butter, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the butter is incorporated. Season the sauce with salt if desired. Toss the mussels in the sauce. Divide the mussels and sauce among 4 shallow bowls, discarding any that did not open. Serve with the toasted bread.
For Cod and Country Recipe and images reprinted with permission from For Cod and Country © 2011 by Barton Seaver, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Hints from the chef:
  • When you get the mussels home, remove them from the plastic bag, half-fill a bowl with ice and place the shells on top. Serve them that same day. Mussels are cooked through when they open; discard any that do not open.
  • To prepare mussels for cooking, scrub the shells with a stiff brush. Remove any threads extending from the shell (called beards) by grabbing with fingers or a cloth and pulling towards the hinge end of the shell.
  • Pimentón dulce, sweet smoked Spanish paprika and Spanish dried chorizo (spicy pork sausage) can be found in some supermarkets and specialty foods stores.