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I made moule marinier, which were ok, but the 'sauce' that was left when they were cooked was more dilute than I would have liked. I cooked them in:

  • 200ml white wine
  • sauteed onions and garlic
  • thyme

and added parsley at the end. There seemed to be significantly more liquid at the end of cooking than I started with. Is this normal? Why was this? Is it residual water in the mussels? How can I avoid this in the future?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes, the additional liquid came from the mussels and is going to enhance the flavor of your finished dish. All you need to do is remove the mussels to a bowl, cover lightly to keep them warm, and then turn the heat up to high on your pan and reduce the liquid until it's concentrated before whisking in your butter. (I presume you added butter even though you didn't list it above?)

If not...finish it by whisking in softened (not too soft, but slightly) butter (known as "mounting with butter" monte au beurre) which will emulsify with the concentrated cooking liquid and add a luxurious texture and richness to your sauce. Finish by adding your chopped parsley and adjust seasoning according to taste.

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Yes I did finish with butter (about 1.5 tbps, and whisked as best I could, no whisk, camping). I thought about reducing the sauce but I didn't see that in any of the recipes, I'll know better next time. Most recipes called for putting the mussels in cold fresh water after picking them over. I felt like there could have been a lot of this fresh water trapped in the closed mussels which then came out when I cooked them. Should I drain the mussels before I put them in the pan, or should I just lift them out of the fresh water straight into the pan? –  Sam Holder Aug 25 '10 at 7:36
    
Putting the mussels in fresh water after picking over is sometimes done to see if partially open ones will close and thus test to see if they're still alive. You could drain them for a bit, that's mainly going to allow any excess water from the outside to drain off. Mussels that are fresh and alive are going to close pretty quickly if/when put in fresh water so they're not likely to take in a great deal. Even if you drain them before cooking, you'll still need to reduce the cooking liquid for the best concentrated flavor. –  Darin Sehnert Aug 25 '10 at 13:27
    
perhaps this stage was uneccesasary then, and caused water to be held in the mussels and that diluted the sauce. We tested the mussels by tapping them before putting in the fresh water, and only put ones that were alive (ie closed when tapped) into the water. Next time I'll skip this step and reduce the sauce. Thanks. –  Sam Holder Aug 25 '10 at 15:10

Mussels absolutely release liquid when cooked. You might try a thicker sauce? Reduce the wine a bit? Seems like 200ml should be about right though...Most recipes I've seen call for 200-400ml.

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Like @Fernando mentioned I always add the mussels to a hot saute pan with olive oil, S&P and garlic and saute them for around 20 seconds then add the wine letting it reduce a little and at the very end pull it off the heat and throw in a little butter along with the herbs.

The butter will form an emulsification with the wine reduction and give you a wonderful sauce.

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You dont say how many mussels you are cooking, it could be you are adding too much wine for the amount of mussels.

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I don't see how having too few mussels could make my sauce too dilute. Too many mussels maybe, but not too few... –  Sam Holder Aug 25 '10 at 15:11

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