There's so many dishes you can make with mussels. Here's an example of a few made over 2 days with the same batch of mussels.
1. Basic "moules marinières";
This preparation is so dead simple. The outcome will also serve to make the following dishes! Fantastic as a dish as such. We serve this mostly with homemade, handcut fries or simply with bread. I used 2 kilo of raw mussels for all of this to serve 2 people from which one of them is not a mussel eater, and it ain't me.
I suppose everyone knows by now how to handle, select and prepare/clean fresh mussels for the cooking process? If not, just ask.
Let's go; cut a big white onion and 2 celery stalks in small chunks. Cut 2 cloves of garlic in thin slices. Cut a good deal of fresh parcely roughly. You can sweat the veggies on low fire before adding the mussels, but you don't need to at all. I sweat the whole lot, added also a good pinch of fennelseeds. Just be creative, there's an alternative version with fresh fennel at the end of this post. Now, turn the heat to very high and add the mussels. You can add a dash of white wine in this stage. Do NOT add any other liquid at all even if you do not use white wine. Cover with a lid and shake the pan as to distribute the veggies through the whole pan. Do this a few more times during the cooking process to mix the already heated mussels with the colder ones on top!! Do use a large pot that initially is filled only by 2/3th; the mussels will open and need space!!
The actual cooking time is no longer than 5-8 minutes. Actually, the moment they open, there at their best! Serve.
Do keep the liquid in the pan (I had around 750 ml). It's what the mussels released and it's full of flavor to make a nice soup. Keep the left-over mussels, remove from the shells, put aside and refrigerate.
2. Musselssoup and fried mussels on toast;
Gently decant and sieve the preserved musseljuice from the first recipe, there's always some sand at the bottom. Chop a shallot very fine. Sweat in a little butter. Add a tbsp of tomato paste and let it fry at least a few minutes to get rid of its harsh taste. Add some flour and let fry again on low fire. Add a good dash (2 tbsp) of raki or ouzo or pastis or sambucco... Let the alcohol evaporate, then add a good dash of white wine. Again, let the alcohol evaporate. Meanwhile; keep on stirring with a whisk to avoid lumbs! Add preserved cooking liquid of the mussels. Add 1-2 fresh tomatoes cut in chunks. Add a good pinch of real saffron. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Mix and done. Plunge some mussels in the soup if you like or make the mussels on toast.
Mussels on toast; put some butter in a frying pan and fry some stale white bread gently until golden brown. Set aside on paper towel to get rid of the fat. Now, quickly fry some preserved already cooked mussels from the first recipe in some more butter on low fire. Add chopped parcely and chervil. Put some aioli on the toast (aioli; whisk eggyolk+mustard+crushed clove of garlic+oil+lemon juice). Put mussels on it.
3. Mussels deepfried;
It's something between tempura and beignets. Make the batter with flour (I used a bought tempura mixture, plain flour is OK) and mix in beer until it looks like a pancake batter. Put in fridge at leat 30 minutes. Meanwhile (not even necessary); beat an eggwhite. Add to the batter. Put preserved cooked mussels from the first recipe in the batter and transfer to the frying pan to deepfry at around 180°C/350°F. Serve with a tbsp of leftover aioli mixed with a tbsp of sour cream and chopped chives. Perfect amuse with your apèritif!
4. Alternative for moules marinières;
There are thousands of possibilities! I made this batch a few weeks ago. Cut a fresh bulb of fennel, celery stick and an onion in small chunks. Sweat for a while, add a good pinch of fennelseeds and 2 fresh tomatoes in chunks. Add a dash of (choose) raki/ouzo/pastis/sambucco... Add mussels and cook until just opened. Pour all liquid off and reduce it quickly on high fire. Add a little cream and reduce some more. Pour over the mussels and serve. Delicious, or disgusting if you're not into anis taste!