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The thought of mussels in white wine just screams of a South African summer, doesn’t it? There’s certainly that summery feeling in the air and to celebrate the change of the cooler months to our sizzling festive South African summer season, we’re going to share not one, but two delectable South African seafood recipes starring the main event: mussels in white wine!

Before we leap into a mussel cooking storm, let’s talk about mussels in South Africa specifically. You might be interested to know that the mussels most South Africans eat are called Mediterranean mussels and they were only introduced to our shores in the 1970s. Since then, it seems that mussels have been a delicacy in the country. One that every South African absolutely loves! Perhaps it’s the versatility of the mussel that makes it so popular. After all, one can enjoy creamy mussels in white wine in a fancy restaurant or even plonk a few on the braai. As far as South African seafood goes, mussels are considered top notch.

You’re probably already chomping at the bit, dying to know which two South African mussel recipe favourites we have in store for you today. Without much further ado; we’d like to present a recipe for creamy mussels in white wine as well as a recipe for chilli mussels on the braai. Let’s jump right in!

Mussel recipe

How to Make Mussels in White Wine (Creamy) Sauce (Serves 2-3 people)

Yes, this one isn’t made on the braai, but it’s extremely popular in South African restaurants and homes anyway! Once you get a taste of the creamy goodness of mussels in white wine sauce, there really is no going back. Here’s a simple recipe to follow.

What You Need:

  • 3 garlic cloves grated or crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 cup of cream
  • ½ cup of dry white wine
  • ¼ cup of chopped chives
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 500g of cleaned fresh mussels
  • Crusty bread for serving

What to Do:

  • In a pan, heat the olive oil and gently fry the grated/crushed garlic cloves. Do this on low heat so that you don’t burn the garlic. Only fry the garlic for around 1 minute and keep stirring it to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  • Add the 1 cup of cream to the pan and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the garlic flavours have infused into the cream. Don’t let the cream boil…a gentle simmer is all that is needed.
  • In a separate pot, steam the fresh mussels in the white wine. Keep the pot lid on during the process so that the heat doesn’t escape. You don’t want to boil the mussels, you just want to steam them; so make sure you only use a small amount of water for this. You will know when the mussels are ready when the shells have opened.
  • Remove the cooked mussels from the shells and add them to the cream and garlic sauce.
  • Add the sprigs of thyme and the chopped chives to the sauce and stir gently but thoroughly to ensure that mussels are all well coated.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve this dish with fresh crusty bread or naan bread as a starter portion or main dish. It’s deliciously creamy!

How to Make Chilli Mussels on the Braai (Serves 4 to 6 people as snack/side dish)

This is a surprisingly easy dish and a real crowd pleaser for those who like a bit of spice. Here’s a good old fashioned South African seafood recipe for chilli mussels on the braai.

What You Need:

  • 1.5kg of black mussels
  • 170g of grated cheese
  • 2 cloves of grated or crushed garlic
  • ¼ cup of finely chopped chives
  • 125g of butter
  • ¼ cup of finely chopped chilli (red ones are best)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to Do:

  • Steam the mussels in a pot with a small amount of water. Keep the lid on and let the pot simmer for around 8 to 10 minutes. The mussels are ready when the shells are open.
  • In a bowl, combine the garlic and butter to form a smooth paste. Then, add the finely chopped chilli so that it’s well coated in the garlic and butter mixture.
  • De-beard the mussels and then break the shells apart. You want to keep the mussel in the shell side and discard the empty side of the shell.
  • Place the remaining shell containing the mussel onto a tray or braai grid and smear a generous amount of garlic, chilli, and butter into each shell.
  • Season the mussels with salt and pepper and then sprinkle the grated cheese and chives over the top of the mussels.
  • Place the shells onto the braai on low to medium heat and cook only until the butter is and cheese is well melted.

These are usually enjoyed straight off the fire as a snack or pulled off just as they are cooked and served as a side dish. Beware the bite of the chilli!

Both of these mussel recipes are firm South African favourites. If you haven’t tried them, now is your chance!

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