I adore Moules Frites - for me it is quintessential French and Belgian Bistro food at its best - plus I love tactile eating! You can treat yourself to Moules Frites anywhere in France and Belgium, and for most of the year. I often make the "Moules" part at home - Moules Marinière - but now and then, for a treat I also do the "Frites" bit as well......chips or French fries! Serve these with lots of paper towels or napkins, and a glass of chilled white wine would be the perfect accompaniment! I bought special Moules Frites dishes, as shown in the photos, but a couple of bowls would be fine - and don't forget a large bowl for the shells. If you really want to be 100% authentic, it is de rigueur to serve the frites with mayonnaise my dear.....sinfully good! Vive la France! Historical Note: Did you know that French Fries are really Belgian? Deep-fried chipped potatoes ("fries" in American English; "chips" in British English) are a very popular food item – and one which the Belgians claim to have invented. They are called frieten in Dutch and frites in French, whatever the name, they are my guilty pleasure!
- 1 kg fresh mussels
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
- 50 ml olive oil
- 150 ml dry white wine, such as Muscadet
- 1 teaspoon Pernod (optional) or 1 teaspoon pastis (optional)
- 2 tablespoons creme fraiche (optional)
FRITES or CHIPS
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- oil, for deep frying
- Slice the potato into thin strips (2mm x 2mm) and rinse in salted water. Heat a deep fat fryer to 325°F/160°C (preferably using sunflower or groundnut oil). Place the frites/chips in and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Tip the mussels into a large bowl of cold water, rinse and then drain well and pull away any 'beards'. (Fresh mussels look black and shiny and should only smell pleasantly of the deep sea - the vast majority should be tightly closed. Avoid any that smell 'fishy', look dry or are mostly open.).
- Place the chopped onion, shallot and garlic in a saucepan with the olive oil, gently sweat them over a low to medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until slightly soft.
- Add the chopped herbs, and pernod or pastis if using and mix with the onion mixture.
- Add the washed mussels to the pan and cover with dry white wine, bring slowly to the boil, then simmer gently whilst stirring. Continue until the mussels have opened - discard any that do not open, this can take between 2 to 5 minutes.
- Add the creme fraiche if using, mixing through the cooked and opened mussles. Cover until the frites/chips are cooked.
- Whilst the moules are cooking, turn up the deep fryer to 375°F/190°C and salt the frites/chips. Add the frites/chips back to the oil for around 1 minute until golden and crispy.
- Serve the moules in a deep bowl with the frites/chips on the side - providinf plenty of napkins and a large bowl for the shells.
- Note - to make the best frites/chips your uncooked frites/chips should be washed in cold water and dried thoroughly before cooking.