Mouclade: The lesser-known cousin of moules marinere

When authentic just won’t do: a pinch of curry powder gives this delicious mouclade an exotic and spicy kick.

In his column for the Financial Times in 2007, my chum Rowley Leigh writes thus about mouclade: ‘The fact is that the mildly exotic aroma of curry powder suits some French cooking perfectly and nowhere more so than in the tantalising whiff that it gives a good mouclade… and I cannot imagine achieving the same effect by using one’s own [freshly made] garam masala [say]. There are times when authentic just won’t do.’ And he’s right.

Mouclade (serves 2)

1 recipe for moules marinière (minus the parsley and seasoning)
2–3tspn potato flour (fécule) or, at a pinch, cornflour
1–2tspn curry powder—I favour the Bolst’s brand
Large pinch of saffron (optional)
100ml double cream
Squeeze of lemon juice

Shell the mussels into a bowl and strain their juices through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Slake the potato flour (or cornflour) with some water to make a thin paste. Bring the mussel juices up to a simmer and add the curry powder and saffron, if using.

Simmer to infuse the spices for 5 minutes or so, then very gradually stir in some of the thickener—you might not need all of it—until the sauce generously coats the back of the spoon. Note that the sauce will thicken quickly, so take care.

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Now, stir in the cream and lemon juice and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the mussels, heat through and check the seasoning. Serve with grilled slices of sourdough bread, rubbed with garlic and olive oil.