Archive of BBC Food Recipes

Mussel stew with garlic

Prep time less than 30 mins
Cook time less than 30 mins
Serves 4
From Food & Drink
Homemade aïoli thickens and adds irresistible garlicky flavour to this delicious seafood stew. Use bread to mop up all the lovely juices - slightly stale is best as it will hold together better.


  1. For the aïoli, peel the garlic and remove the central green germ from any of the cloves. Grate into a food processor and add the egg yolks, lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt and pepper and the mustard. Blend until smooth, then gradually add the oil, until you have a smooth paste. Set aside in the fridge.

  2. For the mussels, clean and de-beard the mussels. If any are open, and do not shut when tapped firmly, then discard immediately.

  3. Heat a large pan with a lid over a high heat.

  4. Add the oil and half the onion. Gently fry until soft then add the bay leaves and a generous splash of wine.

  5. Once hot, add the mussels immediately followed by 200ml/7fl oz of water. Quickly clamp the lid on and steam the mussels for 3-5 minutes, or until they have just opened. Tip the mussels into a colander set over a bowl, so that you retain the cooking juices, discarding any that haven’t opened.

  6. When cool enough to handle, pick the mussel meat from the shells and place in a bowl. Reserve the strained cooking liquid.

  7. Wash the leek and finely slice the white part. Fry the remaining onion, leek, fennel and carrot in a large pan with a little olive oil until tender. Add a splash more white wine, the reserved cooking liquid from the mussels and 100ml/3½fl oz water. Add the saffron and a little salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 10 minutes.

  8. Once the broth has simmered for 10 minutes, whisk in a large spoonful of the aïoli to thicken. Follow with the picked mussels and allow them to warm through before serving.

  9. To serve, put a thick slice of stale bread in each serving bowl and pour over the stew.


For the aïoli

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • half a lemon, juice only
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 200ml/7fl oz oil, (mix sunflower and olive oil, to taste. Olive oil makes it a heavier taste.)

For the mussels

  • 750g/1lb 10oz mussels
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 250ml/9fl oz dry white wine
  • 1 leek
  • 1 fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • salt and pepper
  • 250ml/9fl oz aïoli (see above)
  • large chunks of stale bread, to serve

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