Mussels in pepper broth

This simple seafood dish is a specialty in Abruzzo and makes for an ideal starter, share plate or quick weeknight meal. Just throw all your ingredients into the one pot, cook until the mussels open up, then scatter with parsley and serve with crusty bread.






  • 2 kg fresh mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2–3cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley stalks (only use the tender bit closer to the leaves)
  • 200 mlwhite wine
  • salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper
  • crusty bread, to serve


  1. Place the cleaned mussels in a bowl. Discard any that are already open or have a broken shell.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and parsley stalks and cook for 1–2 minutes or until fragrant. Pour in the wine and cook over high heat for 1–2 minutes or until most of the alcohol has evaporated. Add plenty of pepper, then drop in the cleaned mussels, cover with a lid and leave to steam. As the mussels open, lift them out with a slotted spoon and set them aside in a large bowl. Discard any that refuse to open. Taste for salt and adjust according to your taste. I often feel no need for extra salt as the liquid released by the mussels as they cook is pure sea-water nectar.
  3. Pour the cooking liquid over mussels and scatter with parsley leaves. Serve hot, with lots of crusty bread to dunk into that precious sauce.


  • These days you can buy vacuum-packed mussels, scrubbed clean and ready to go. They are available in two varieties: cooked and uncooked. Make sure you buy the uncooked ones.

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.