Mussels with Leek, Anchovies and Sherry Cream Sauce

September 3, 2012

I stink at shooting mussels. They are now officially on my list of foods that I don’t like taking photos of. I never realised it until now but I am embarrassingly clueless about how to make mussels with their black shells and creepy innards look good. Plus there’s definitely an art to arranging mussels gracefully to which I failed horribly (I’m all for the dump-in-bowl method!).

So they may be photogenically challenged under my hands but at least they tasted awesome. But then again, how can it not when you’re pairing one of my favourite seafoods with my favourite cooking booze and my favourite vegetable? But for the love of all that holy, please please do not skip the anchovies. I realise it’s a polarising ingredient and that people who eats them straight from the jar and piles them high on pizzas, are a rare breed (oh gawd how I love these salty fishies!). But anchovies are absolutely brilliant in cooking with their strong umami flavour and they give dishes that extra special savoury punch with none of their stinky fishy taste. But if you must, feel free to reduce or skip it entirely. Just don’t forget the crusty bread to mop up the remainder of the slurp-worthy sauce. It’s far more classier this way then drinking it from the bowl.

Mussels with Leek, Anchovies and Sherry Cream Sauce
Serves 4
  1. 1.5kg fresh black mussels
  2. 1 large leek
  3. 1 Tbl olive oil
  4. 1 Tbl unsalted butter
  5. 2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  6. 2-3 large anchovies (from the jar, drained on paper towel)
  7. 200ml dry sherry (eg. Amontillado)
  8. 250ml thickened cream (or double cream)
  9. 1 small bunch of chives, chopped
  1. Clean, scrub and pull any beards off the mussels and leave to strain in a colander. Wash the leek, then slice in half lengthways then chop into 1cm slices.
  2. Heat up a wok or large pan with the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté leek, garlic and anchovies for about 10 minutes or until vegetables have softened and anchovies have dissolved and broken down into the oil.
  3. Add the sherry and cook for a minute and then add in the cream. Dump in the mussels (along with any brine), give it a quick toss. Stick the lid on and cook mussels for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the shells have opened (discard any that remains closed).
  4. Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon into a large bowl and set aside. Cook the cream sauce for about 3-5 minutes until reduced by a third. Season with black pepper and/or sea salt to taste (it should be salty enough though from the anchovies and mussels) then stir in the chives.
  5. Serve mussels with plenty of sauce spooned over, a sprinkle of extra chives and with hot crusty bread.
Citrus and Candy

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Chocolatesuze February 23, 2014 at 00:37

Just made this and it tastes GLORIOUS!!! Never realized cooking mussels was so easy and now I think I’m in love!


James September 23, 2012 at 01:38

I usually cook my mussels with white wine and cream but sherry sounds like an intriguing choice!


Vivian - vxdollface September 16, 2012 at 23:36

oh man they look scrumptious! making it this wkend :D


Janice Lopez September 15, 2012 at 19:02

I don’t see any issue with the photos. They’re just perfect. I will definitely try making the mussels sherry cream source sometime. It sounds divine.


Chrisje September 10, 2012 at 18:35

Having lived in Belgium for the majority of my life, where people eat mussels nearly every day when they are in full season (all months without the letter “r”) – this might be slightly exaggerated, however I used to eat them very very often, I must say this recipe is the best one I have ever made !
I am so happy to be living in WA in the mean time [moved over from QLD], where yummy mussels are very easy to come by, so no excuse for not making them at least once a week.
And there is nothing wrong with your photos of mussels! You excel at them ! Please keep on posting and I will keep on cooking !


Citrus and Candy September 10, 2012 at 18:55

Hi Chrisje, currently I’m itching to make a whole seafood stew with that sherry cream sauce lol. But thank you so much, I’m so happy that you loved it, especially since you use to live in Belgium (by far one of my favourite countries when it comes to food, beer, chocolate and mussels!). :D


Amy September 9, 2012 at 17:03

Photos look pretty good to me! I’d devour them!


Anna September 6, 2012 at 05:27

Looks fantastic!


A Bowl Of Mush September 5, 2012 at 03:26

What a lovely recipe, delicious!


Michelle MacPhearson September 4, 2012 at 22:53

I am printing this recipe. All I do with mussels is boil it with a soda sometimes add butter to it and that’s it. That is all I know but now I know more. Thanks to you!


Sara (Belly Rumbles) September 4, 2012 at 20:00

Love love love mussels, and may I say, your pics make them shine! I need mussels!


leaf (the indolent cook) September 3, 2012 at 23:01

Considering the subject, I reckon your photos look good! Sherry in the sauce, hey… that sounds delicious!


Natashia@foodonpaper September 3, 2012 at 21:33

These mussels look delicious!! Don’t know what you’re on about.. I struggle taking photos of single items like a cookie or cupcake. Guess I don’t have the patience to ‘style’ the photo..


thecitygourmand September 3, 2012 at 20:07

My word, mussels hardly need ‘spicing up’ to taste good but that sauce looks delicious!


Jacq September 3, 2012 at 16:10

Love mussels and this post reminds me of how long it’s been since I’ve cooked them. I usually do it in a tomato and white wine sauce but the creamy sherry sauce looks amazing!


Tina @ bitemeshowme September 3, 2012 at 15:54

I just have no skill at food photography, period. You still made mussels look drool worthy. I love me a good bowl of mussels. I have to admit, I only ever ate it with rice at home (dad’s special version of x.o). I don’t think I’ve ever ordered them out or even attempted to cook it at home. I have a fear of cooking seafood…


Christine September 3, 2012 at 15:07

Well I think you made them look pretty awesome! Love the golden flecks on the shells and the vivid contrast of the chives and the glossy black shells. Super pretty!


Phuoc'n Delicious September 3, 2012 at 15:00

Oh how I love mussels.. The best part is mopping up all the juices with crusty bread. I, too, didn’t realise how easy they were to cook, only having made them once in my life. I think your photos are amazing still <3


Eha September 3, 2012 at 14:48

What in heaven’s name is wrong with your photos? I’ll use the sherry, [think of replacement for all that cream :) !], and be thankful for the tip on anchovies! Absolutely hate to tell you, the little wrigglers I use do not arrive in oil in a small oval tin, but robustly say ‘hello’ from a Scandinavian glass jar, heads, tails and all :)! No problems for me – learnt to behead and disembowel them from about age three!! Love the recipe and shall pass it on!!!!


Miss Piggy September 3, 2012 at 09:28

I CANNOT take decent photos of brown (or green) foods. I think your photos look good – I’d certainly tuck into that big bowl of mussels with no problems at all!


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