Devised by Steve from several different recipes, this is the best sauce for mussels I have ever tasted. It deserves small, fresh moules de bouchot (grown on posts in Brittany). Make sure you have lots of French bread for mopping up the sauce. This will serve six as a starter, or 3-4 as a main course.

2 kg moules de bouchot
0.25 l dry white wine (or cider, see note)
1 bay leaf
1 dessertspoon butter
1 finely chopped onion
1 clove crushed garlic
1 dessertspoon flour
1 teaspoon curry powder
juice of half a lemon
250 g crème fraîche
2 egg yolks

Bring the wine and bay leaves to the boil in a wide pan, and add the cleaned mussels. Cover and shake the pan occasionally over a high heat, just until the mussels open. Strain the liquor into a bowl, keeping the mussels warm. Taste the liquor. If it is too salty dilute with water or wine.

In the meantime, soften the onion and garlic in the butter. Add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour in about 0.3 l of the cooking liquor – enough to make a thin sauce – and simmer it briefly, until the flour is cooked out.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks and cream, then pour on the hot sauce slowly, mixing all the time. Add the curry powder, pepper and lemon juice to taste – do not add any salt. Return to the pan and heat slowly. In theory the sauce shouldn’t curdle even if it boils. Once hot, pour over the mussels and decorate with chopped parsley.

Footnote: I have made this with dry cider instead of wine, and l liked it at least as much. After all, it could be argued that cider is more appropriate to a Breton recipe than wine …

6 thoughts to “Mouclade”

  1. Fabulous! It is great hot or cold. We make so many mussles we always have left over to put in the fridge. Great on a hot summer day as an appetizer or snack.
    We first had Mouclade in La Rochelle, France a port on the Atlantic coast north of Bordeaux. We were told by our French friends that it was brought there in the 15th or 16th century with traders from Asia Minor
    Ergo: curry which is not typically French.
    Your recipe is the closest we’ve found and when our French friends come they love it.

  2. I live in the Vendee, about 30 minutes from La Rochelle, and this is a very tradiional way of preparing moules. Your recipe is pretty close, no need for the eggs or lemon, and add a touch of flour at the end, mixed with a knob of butter(Beurre manié) to thicken.Plus I use a lot more creme fraiche (more yummy sauce) and at least 1tsp curry powder per 500g of moules. I must also emphasise that it is important to use the cheap curry powder (we call it Yellow here cos it is so mild) for the authentic flavour. Everyone should have a go at this dish, you will love it!!!!

  3. Thanks for the info, Jayne! I definitely like the zing of lemon in the sauce, but I’m a fan of all things lemony. I agree the curry should be mild — this is France after all 🙂

  4. In 2003, I too was in La Rochelle for the day and had Mouclade for the first time in a restaurant there. I am not a curry lover, but in spite of that I thoroughly enjoyed my delicious meal. Is it a speciality of La Rochelle? I have never seen it on another menu anywhere. I now live in Brittany but even my neighbours have never heard of it.

  5. Hello Sandra
    Thanks for your comment. I’m very surprised your neighbours haven’t heard of mouclade, it’s a true French classic.The lovely Mireille Johnston lists it under Charente in her book, so it probably is a speciality of the area around La Rochelle, but known elsewhere too.

    As you probably know, the French aren’t curry-lovers either 🙂 But this dish, and the classic French blanquette de poulet, both benefit from a pinch of curry powder. If you like this, you should try the blanquette — it’s lovely comfort food.

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