Ireland, known for its rich culinary heritage, offers a delightful array of dishes that showcase the bounty of its coastal waters. One such culinary treasure is Irish moules marinières, a classic French-inspired dish that has found its own unique place in the heart of Irish cuisine. 

Mussels have a long history in Irish gastronomy, dating back centuries. As an island nation with an extensive coastline, Ireland has been blessed with an abundance of fresh seafood, including mussels. Historically, mussels were a vital food source for coastal communities, providing sustenance and nourishment. They were commonly harvested along the shores, and consumed by both the poor and the wealthy.

Over time, mussels became an integral part of Irish cuisine, finding their way into various traditional recipes. They were enjoyed boiled, baked, or incorporated into stews and soups, adding a distinct flavor to these dishes. However, it was the influence of French cuisine that truly elevated the profile of mussels in Ireland.

The term "moules marinières" translates to "sailor-style mussels" and refers to a classic French preparation that features mussels cooked in a fragrant broth of white wine, garlic, shallots, and parsley. While the dish originated in France, it gained popularity worldwide, including in Ireland.

In Ireland, chefs and home cooks began incorporating their own unique twists into the traditional recipe, adapting it to suit local tastes. Irish moules marinières typically include a generous splash of Irish stout or cider, enhancing the robust flavors of the dish. Some variations may also include bacon, leeks, or cream, further enriching the broth and adding a distinct Irish touch.

The key to a successful Irish moules marinières lies in the quality of the mussels. Ireland's cold and nutrient-rich coastal waters provide an ideal environment for mussels to thrive. With their plump, tender flesh and briny flavor, Irish mussels add a delightful taste of the sea to this iconic dish.

Here’s a short video from Bord Bia on how to clean mussels:

Bord Bia's moules marinières recipe

Serves: 2 as a starter, one as a main course.

Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1kg mussels, prepared
  • A knob of butter
  • 1 shallot
  • Finely chopped 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 60ml white wine
  • Chopped parsley, to serve

Method:

Set a large saucepan over a medium heat.  

Melt the butter.  

Add the chopped shallot and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

They should soften but not brown.

Add the wine and mussels, turn the heat up to high and cover tightly with a lid.

Allow the mussels to cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time to ensure they cook evenly.

Discard any that have not opened.

Remove the pan from the heat to stop the mussels from cooking any further.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley, then spoon them into warmed bowls and pour over the pan juices.

Serve with lots of crusty bread.

Nutritional Analysis per serving:

  • Energy:  424kcal
  • Protein:  20g
  • Carbohydrate: 47g
  • Fat:  15g
  • Iron:  6.47mg

For more Irish fish recipe inspiration, check out BordBia.ie/fish.