Mussels are inexpensive, sustainable and easy to cook. It’s no wonder chefs love to play around with the flavors they use when steaming them.
1. Coconut milk. After sautéing a fragrant garlic-ginger-chile paste, star chef Tyler Florence adds mussels and steams them in coconut milk.
2. Pesto and tomatoes. New York chef Marc Murphy makes white-wine-steamed mussels inspired by the pesto-smothered ones he ate as a kid in southern France.
3. Lemon and bay leaves. A combination of butter, lemon juice and bay leaves creates a flavorful broth for Cathal Armstrong’s Irish-style steamed mussels.
4. Tarragon. Steamed mussels with wine, tomatoes and tarragon was one of the dishes star chef Tom Colicchio used to make when he was 13.
5. Smoky. Bacon is the secret to New York chef Michael Romano’s beer-steamed mussels.
6. Three pepper. Star chef Mario Batali serves his mussels in a pepper and chile-laden broth with green olive crostini.
7. Sausage. Merguez, a spicy North African lamb sausage, flavors the otherwise simple broth for southern chef Hugh Acheson’s mussels.
8. Saffron and cream. San Francisco chef Mourad Lahlou uses Riesling to steam his mussels and then flavors the broth with saffron, cream and orange zest.
9. Sherry and beans. Chef Alex Raij steams her mussels in a mix of white wine and sherry and then tosses the shelled mussels with white beans for a lovely stew.
10. Black beans and chiles. The spicy combination of fermented black beans, ginger and dried chiles makes Australian chef Neil Perry’s steamed mussels exceptionally savory and spicy.
11. Miso. To give his French-style mussels an extra hit of umami, Boston chef Tony Maws adds miso butter to the steaming liquid.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of the forthcoming The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016). She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.