Mussels in Saffron White Wine Sauce

Mussels in Saffron White Wine SauceOne of my favorite types of seafood is mussels; so being in Ireland was quite a treat. Mussels are common and very inexpensive. One kilo costs less than 4 euros. The conversion of 4 euros to dollars is around $4.40. So they are very inexpensive, compared to Denver, where they usually cost around $4 per pound. For those who don’t know, 1 kilo equals 2.25 pounds! So quite a difference in cost.

Ireland’s mussels are sweet and meaty. We had a mixture of farm raised and wild mussels on separate occasions. The only difference was the dirtiness of the shells. The wild ones were A LOT more work to clean the shells and prep for cooking. But they are beautiful, sweet and just lovely.

Mussels in Saffron White Wine SauceDon’t let the idea of cleaning mussels deter you from eating them. All you need is a stiff brush or a clean scratchy kitchen pad to give them a good scrubbing. It’s important to do a good job, otherwise, you will have grit in your sauce. Use clean running water and remove any beards (the strings hanging out of the shells) as you clean the mussels.

Making this sauce might seem intimidating because of the amount of the ingredients but don’t let that scare you. It really is easy. Just chop everything at the beginning, have your mussels clean and start layering your flavors into the cooking pot. The trick to getting such deep flavor development is the timing of when you add the ingredients.

Mussels in Saffron White Wine SauceI’m still carrying some beautiful Moroccan saffron in my backpack and had a vision of cooking up a beautiful sauce using saffron, white wine, coconut milk, spicy chilies and fresh herbs. I have to say, I really enjoyed the end result.

The sauce flavors are warm, spicy, coconutty and filled with the wonderful scents of fresh basil, coriander and thyme. The sweet, slightly salty mussels paired beautifully with the sauce. We also enjoyed sopping up the sauce with crusty bread.

Not only was the sauce tasty with mussels but we added egg noodles and vegetables to the broth later on for some fantastic ramen. So YUMMY! We highly recommend making a large pot of the sauce just so you can use it for both purposes.

Mussels in Saffron White Wine Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Tasty flavors of coconut milk, saffron, spicy chilis, fresh herbs and white wine meld into a golden sauce for steaming mussels and serving with crusty bread for sopping.


1/2 kilo (1.25 pounds) mussels

1 cup chicken stock

7 to 8 saffron threads

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. butter

1/8 cup onion, finely chopped

1/2 small tomato, diced small

1 – 2 to 3-inch medium-heat chili pepper

1 large garlic clove

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger or 1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup coconut milk

Zest and juice from one lemon

1/2 tsp fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. fresh basil

1 Tbsp. coriander

Salt and pepper, to taste

Crusty bread, toasted if desired


Clean mussels the mussels and set aside. (Serious Eats has great instructions for cleaning mussels if you need help).

Heat the chicken stock to almost boiling and add saffron threads. Set aside until needed.

You will need a large skillet or pot with a well-fitting lid.

Over medium heat, add butter and olive oil to the large pan. Saute onion and tomato until onions are soft.

Add garlic, chili pepper, ginger, turmeric and white pepper. Cook until fragrant.

Pour in white wine and simmer until wine is reduced by 1/3.

Add the saffron and chicken stock mix and simmer until reduced by 1/3.

Pour in coconut milk, lemon zest and juice, and fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Allow sauce to simmer for 2 to 3 more minutes.

Toss in the mussels, put the lid on the pot and allow the mussels to steam for 2 to 3  minutes.

Do not overcook. Your mussels are done when most of the shells are opened.

Using a clear glass lid makes it where you can watch the mussels open, but if you don’t have one, do not keep opening the lid because you let out the steam. If you have to, check no more than once.

Fresh mussels should not take more than 2 to 3 minutes to open when your sauce is at a good simmer and you have a tight-fitting lid.

Remove lid and serve the Mussels with Saffron White Wine Sauce immediately with crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.


More Beautiful Ways to Use Mussels:

Pasta from the Rocks from The Taste of SF

Smokey and Sweet Grilled Mussels from The Two Bananas

Moules Frites (Belgian Mussels + Fries) from The Macadames 

Mussels Casino with Bacon and Parmesan from Vodka and Biscuits

Saffron-Fennel Spaghetti and Mussels from I Ate the Whole Thing

Chilled Corn Soup from Wild Greens and Sardines


4 Comments Add yours

  1. bluestar68 says:

    And I might add, beautifully photographed Heidi. It sounds delicious too! I may just have to try making it.

    1. Heidi Medina says:

      Thank you Liz. Let me know what you think of it! If you don’t get to make them by the time I get back, I’ll have to do some cooking for you 🙂

  2. Beautiful dish with delicious ingredients. They all look like they come together so well.

    1. Heidi Medina says:

      Thank you. It is a tasty dish!

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