Photo of Mussels with Pernod and cream by WW

Mussels with Pernod and cream

Total Time
31 min
14 min
17 min
You'll think you're in the south of France when you dig into this big bowl of mussels. Serve it with a piece of crusty baguette to sop up the "seafood soup." Just keep in mind that, to make this recipe as delicious as you can, like any shellfish, fresh mussels should smell like the sea. If they have a strong fishy smell, they’re not fresh. Pernod, a popular French liqueur, is flavored with star anise, making it the perfect complement to the shallots, wine, and mussels.


Olive oil

2 tsp


4 medium, finely chopped


1 small, finely chopped


½ cup(s), cold


1½ fl oz, Pernod or other licorice-flavored aperitif recommended, or 2 floz

White wine

1 cup(s)

Uncooked mussels in shells

2½ pound(s), in shells, scrubbed*

Half and half cream

¼ cup(s)

Fresh tarragon

2 Tbsp, minced

Table salt

¼ tsp, or more to taste

Black pepper

tsp, or more to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallots and onions; cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes.
  2. Remove pot from heat and add water, Pernod and wine. Return to heat; simmer for 1 minute.
  3. Add mussels and cover pot. Increase heat to high and cook, shaking pot once or twice during steaming, until mussels open, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Remove mussels from liquid using a strainer or slotted spoon; place them in a large bowl. (Remember to throw away any unopened mussels.)
  5. Boil remaining liquid until it’s reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in cream, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour liquid over mussels and serve immediately. Yields about 2 cups per serving.


To clean mussels, scrub the shell under cold running water, making sure to remove the “beard,” if there is one. As you clean the mussels, toss them into a bowl of cold water with about 1 tablespoon of cornmeal. This will help the mussels purge any sand that they may contain. Drain and rinse the mussels before you cook them. After cooking, if a mussel doesn’t open by itself, throw it out. Do not force it open. An unopened mussel is usually indicative of spoiled fish. Don’t worry, the rest of the dish is fine.