White Wine Steamed Mussels

I read once before that everyone needs to have a go to dish for entertaining. Something that is, preferably, quick to make, undeniably delicious, and has visual appeal.

This dish easily falls into each of those categories. The presence of a wine sauce automatically gussies up any dish while mussels add a rustic charm to the meal.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup fennel, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 pounds mussels, cleaned
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the fennel and onions. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the garlic and bell peppers. Sauté until translucent.
  • Add the wine and mussels. Cover and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Done when mussels open.


  • Cleaning the mussels can be a real pain. It’s important to do a thorough job of it as you wouldn’t want strands of seaweed floating around the final product. Dirty mussels will have white spots (barnacles) on them. While it’s not dangerous to eat barnacles, in terms of presentation, a clean mussel is a prettier mussel.
  • If you want more information on how to properly clean mussels, click here.
  • The wine you choose to cook with can vary.  While there are those of the “don’t cook with what you won’t drink” variety, I’m of the “any wine will do” group and purchased a bottle from Trader Joe’s for the task. This isn’t a knock on the quality of Trader Joe’s wine (which is excellent for the price); the point here is that it’s not necessary use a $60 bottle of wine.
  • When cooking seafood, the meat can go from perfectly done to overcooked in a minute. This tightrope becomes harder to walk when you add alcohol into the mix. Since the alcohol is only given a short cooking time, the remaining alcohol flavor could be heavy for some taste buds. The longer the wine simmers in the pot, the more alcohol is cooked off. However, as noted earlier, this could result in overcooking the mussels.
  • An untested alternative could be to add the wine first, let it simmer for a few minutes, then add the mussels when ready. Go here for a chart of alcohol burn-off times.
  • That being said, white wine sauce is most excellent, so don’t let it go to waste! Pair the meal with some bread to sop up the sauce once all the mussels are gone. You won’t regret it.

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