Be sure to taste the ‘stock’ once the mussels have opened- a true taste of the sea! I have regular requests for this from friends when staying over at the beach house. I do make them go and pick the mussels off the rocks first, of course!

Recipe by Denise Cowburn-Levy

Serves: 6

(A permit from Cape Nature is required to pick mussels from the wild)


  • 2kg live mussels, cleaned
  • 6 stalks of thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 bouquet garni of parsley, thyme and bay leaves
  • 1 cup of dry white wine, a good one
  • 2 cups of cream
  • A handful of parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste


If your mussels have not already been cleaned, you’ll need to do this first.

Put a cup of white wine and 6 sprigs of thyme into a large pot over a high heat and bring to the boil.

Add the cleaned mussels, giving the pot a good shake every now and then to allow to open.

If any mussels don’t open, then discard them.

Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon, and strain the liquid they were cooked in, as this can
contain sand, and keep for the sauce.

Soften the garlic and shallots or onions in the butter in the same pan over a medium heat until well done.

Add the strained cooking liquid and the bouquet garni of herbs, and turn up the heat to let the sauce reduce by a third.

Remove the bouquet garni with the herbs, add the cream and reduce again till slightly thickened, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Add the mussels back into the pot, removing a few halves of the shells.

Add the parsley and remove from the heat.

Spoon into large warmed bowls and serve with loads of crusty warm bread for dunking