Mussels with fennel and saffron

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 July, 2012, 12:00am


Fennel and seafood is a classic European pairing, and the anise flavour is enhanced by the addition of Pernod. A hint of saffron gives this dish depth, while the cream makes it rich and luxurious.

Use small black mussels for this dish, which should be served with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.


45 grams unsalted butter

2 medium shallots, minced

A small pinch of saffron threads

2 medium-sized fennel bulbs

150ml dry white wine

30ml Pernod or another anise-flavoured liquor

120ml single cream

1kg fresh mussels, cleaned

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the fennel bulbs in half through the core, then cut off and discard the core and the base.

Remove any feathery fronds from the bulb and set aside for the garnish. Slice the bulb about 8mm thick then lay the pieces flat on the cutting board and cut them about 5mm thick.

Heat a large skillet and add the butter.

When the butter is half melted, add the saffron, shallots and fennel.

Season lightly with salt, then cook over a low flame, stirring often until the fennel is crisp-tender.

Turn the heat to medium-high then add the white wine. Bring to the boil and add the mussels.

Lower the heat then cover the pan.

Shake the pan often and simmer until the mussels open, about five minutes.

Using tongs, remove the mussels and place them in two large, shallow bowls.

Pour the Pernod into the skillet and cook over a high flame until boiling. Add the cream then simmer, stirring often, reducing to a thin sauce consistency.

Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the fennel and sauce between the two bowls then garnish with the fennel fronds.