Karl’s Marsala Steamed Mussels

Jan has requested corn chowder with crayfish for her birthday, but crayfish were out of season. I made the soup with langoustine. She also really likes mussels, so I decided to steam some as a side dish.

Karl’s Marsala Steamed Mussels

Karl’s Marsala Steamed Mussels

Marsala is an Italian fortified wine. While the additional alcohol acts as a preservative, it will still eventually start to turn to vinegar.  This dish is best with a freshly opened bottle.

Karl’s Marsala Steamed Mussels


3 Tbs. unsalted butter, separate uses
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbs. Italian parsley, coarsely chopped, separate uses
1 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. black pepper

1 cups dry Marsala wine
2-3 lbs. mussels

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon of wine (optional)


1. Wash and de-beard the mussels.

Tip: Discard any mussels that do not close when squeezed.

Note: This indicates that they are dead.

2. Sauté celery in the butter in a large soup pot, until soft but not starting to color, about three minutes.

3. Add most of the green onions and continue cooking until soft, about two more minutes.

Note: Reserve a bit of the green parts of the onion for garnish.

4. Pull the vegetables to the side of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the center and sauté one minute more, until fragrant.

5. Add most of the parsley, the thyme, bay leaf, pepper, and wine to the pot and bring the pot to a boil.

Tip: The liquid from the mussels is naturally salty so additional salt generally will not be necessary, but may be added to suit your own taste.

Note: Reserve a bit of the green parts of the onion for garnish.

6. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, on medium for two minutes.

7. Stir in the mussels and put the lid back on the pot. Cook for five minutes.

Tip: If you are brave enough and your pot has two handles and a tight fitting lid, lay a towel over the lid and pick up the pot by both handles. Holding the lid down with your thumbs, mix the mussels and sauce with a jerking tossing motion. This process allows you to mix the ingredients without losing the steam. Otherwise, toss the mussels once a minute.

8. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the mussels

9. Pull the mussels to the side of the pot to expose the liquid at the bottom of the pot.

10. Stir in the cornstarch and continue cooking until the sauce starts to thicken, about one minute.

11. Stir the pot to mix the sauce into the open mussels and continue steaming, covered, until all of the mussels have opened, about another 3-5 minutes.

12. Add the reserved green onions and parsley and toss the mussels one final time to coat.

13. Serve with toasted rustic bread.

Note: Don’t forget to put an empty bowl on the table to receive the shells as the mussels are consumed.

1 Comment

Filed under Main Dishes, Seafood, Steaming

One response to “Karl’s Marsala Steamed Mussels

  1. Pingback: Karl’s Corn Chowder with Langoustine | Jabberwocky Stew

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