Mussels with Saffron and Citrus


Chef Mourad Lahlou simmers mussels in a lovely saffron cream sauce. Lahlou prefers Mediterranean mussels. "The ones I get are called that, but they really come from the Pacific Northwest," he says. "They're plump, juicy and don't toughen up as much as other varieties when you cook them." Plus:  More Fish & Seafood Recipes 

Mussels with Saffron and Citrus
Photo: © Fredrika Stjärne
Total Time:
40 mins
4 to 6


  • 1 1/4 cups Riesling

  • 1 1/4 cups water

  • 4 thyme sprigs

  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • Grilled bread, for serving


  1. In a large, wide saucepan, combine the wine, water, thyme and garlic and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over moderately high heat, shaking the pot a few times, until the mussels open, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a large bowl.

  2. Pour the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a large heatproof measuring cup. Wash the pot and pour in the cooking liquid, leaving behind any grit. Boil the cooking liquid until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes.

  3. Add the cream, saffron and citrus zests and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted, then stir in the mussels until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and serve with grilled bread.

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