Simon Hopkinson’s perfect moules mariniere

Bring the flavour of the seaside into your home with this delicious mussel recipe.

I know full well that the following information will be of no use whatsoever to those of you who don’t live in my manor of Shepherd’s Bush, west London, but, for those who do, The Fishmonger’s Kitchen at 119, Shepherd’s Bush Road, W6 (020– 7603 0673; info@fishmongers, has been a veritable boon to me over the past few months. Although it has been a fine purveyor for several years, of late, it has blossomed further by importing fish and shellfish direct from the giant Rungis market on the outskirts of Paris.

Just one of the benefits of this is a regular supply of the pristine bouchot mussels, which are so clean, so small, so sweet and delicious that to cook them is to be at one with your very own kitchen rockpool.

Perfect moules marinière (serves 2)

75g butter
1 finely chopped onion 250ml white wine
1kg mussels
2tbspn chopped parsley
Freshly milled white pepper—or cayenne, if you prefer

Using a very large pan with a lid, melt the butter and fry the onions in it until they’re softened and transparent. Pour in the wine and allow to come to the boil. Tip in the mussels, put on the lid and, holding the pan in both hands, shake it around a bit. Put onto a high heat and cook for 2 minutes. Take a look to see how they’re opening—it doesn’t take long—and give them another shake, trying to bring the more opened mussels from the bottom of the pan up to the top.

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Return to the heat, replacing the lid, and continue cooking for a further few minutes. Have another look and give another shake.

When it seems that most of the shells are open, tip in the parsley, add white pepper (or cayenne), shake and stir around for the last time and tip into a large, previously heated bowl. It goes without saying that you will also need a little crusty bread here.