Moules Écosse - Scottish Gin and Tonic Mussels

Friday 7 October 2016

Sometimes with a recipe you need to keep it simple and let the high quality ingredients shine through. Such is the case today. Without a doubt my favourite food is shellfish and my favourite drink Gin. When I was asked by the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group to develop a recipe with Mussels to celebrate Seafood Week (7th - 14th October) I had a brainwave. I've had Mussels in white wine, cider and beer so why not Gin & Tonic? Scottish Shellfish needs Scottish Gin & Tonic so I reached out to local Aberdeenshire producers Esker Gin and Walter Gregor Tonic and a truly amazing dish was born.

Many of us love to eat Mussels when dining out but are more wary of cooking them at home thinking they are fiddly to clean and dangerous to eat. There is really nothing to be scared of as long as you follow the 4 simple steps below you really can't go wrong. With their plump and sweet tasting flesh they are one of the best and most affordable Scottish shellfish out there. The old myth about only eating mussels ‘when there is an ‘R’ in the month’ is incorrect and they are perfect to enjoy any day of the year.

  1. Store mussels in a bowl, covered with a damp cloth, in the bottom of the fridge. Apart from when cleaning, don't store or submerge the mussels in water or you'll drown them. 
  2. Sort through the mussels to check that they are all closed. Give any that aren’t a gentle tap on a surface to see if they close shut. Discard those that don’t close, along with any that are cracked or damaged. 
  3. Scrub the mussels well with a stiff brush under cold, running water and use the back of a knife to remove any barnacles. Pull away any tendrils or ‘beards’ from the sides of the shells. Rinse well again. 
  4. Cook the mussels according to your recipe and discard any shells that have not opened up. 

The flavours in this dish are absolutely fantastic. Of course much of that comes from the wonderful Scottish shellfish but the Gin & Tonic adds some amazing delicate notes. Feel free to experiment with the proportion of Gin to Tonic to find what works best for you. Shallots can be substituted for onions if you like a milder flavour however by cooking them and the garlic out first with the butter any real harshness is removed. I swithered about adding cream at the end as the cooking liquor tastes amazing in unadulterated form however I felt that a small amount really lifted the dish. Crusty bread for dunking is of course essential when it comes to eating, or you may prefer to dive straight in with a soup spoon. Frites work well too. We enjoyed both with our Moules Écosse. Slainte! 

Gin & Tonic Mussels
Moules Écosse
Serves 4 as a Starter or 2 as a Main Course

25g Salted Butter 
1/2 Onion, very finely chopped 
1 large Garlic clove, crushed 
150ml Scottish Tonic Water 
50ml Scottish Gin 
1.5 kg Scottish Mussels 
4 Tbsp Double Cream 
1 bunch Parsley, chopped 
Salt & Pepper 

Wash the mussels under cold running water and pull out any beards. If any are open, give them a wee tap to see if they will close shut. Discard those that don’t close, along with any that are cracked or damaged.
Melt the butter in a large heavy based pan. (Make sure it's one that you have a well fitting lid for) 
Gently fry the chopped onion and crushed garlic until soft. 
Pour in the Gin & Tonic and when it comes to the boil add the mussels. 
Cover with the lid and simmer for four or five minutes, occasionally shaking the pan, until all of the mussels are opened. 
Add the cream and parsley and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. 
Serve with plenty of crusty bread to soak up all the Gin & Tonic infused Mussel juices.

For further inspiration of what you can cook with Fresh Scottish Mussels take a look through these fantastic recipes from some of my food blogging colleagues:

Disclosure : This is a commissioned recipe for the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group. As always, all views expressed are my own. Thanks to Esker and Walter Gregor for providing the G&T. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you.


  1. Loooooving the gin and tonic as a sauce! Such a cool idea...

  2. I love that you put gin in everything haha. I really should cook with alcohol more often, it can give such a great flavour!

  3. Moules Mariniere and with Thai Curry have been done to death. Love your spin on mussels!

  4. Genius idea - why have I never seen this before? Love it, love it, love it!! :-) Eb x

  5. Oooooh my two favourite things - Gin & Mussels!! I love this!! Definitely going to have to give it a go! x

  6. Gin and Tonic Mussels - excellent idea :-)

  7. This is ultra cool - what an impressive dish perfect for impressing dinner party guests! I know quite a few people who'd go wild to try this.... thanks so much for hooking up with this month's round of Simple and in Season.


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