Steamed Mussels with Tomato, Basil, Cumin & Olive Oil

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Appears in

The Sugar Club Cookbook

By Peter Gordon

Published 1997

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Mussels are a fun dish to eat and they’re extremely tasty as well. The flesh is meaty and will hold its own with many flavours. The following simple recipe is a particular favourite of mine, but it does rely on using the ripest, best tomatoes. Make sure too that the mussels are fresh, and clean them thoroughly. Pull off any hairs and scrape away barnacles with the back of a blunt knife. Then wash them well in cold water, discarding any that are already open or have cracked shells. To store, put the washed and drained mussels in a bowl, cover with a wet cloth and place in the fridge. Some important rules: don’t keep them long as they pass their sell-by date quickly, don’t store them in water and never cover them with clingfilm as they will suffocate – like oysters, mussels are sold alive.


  • 2kg (lb) cleaned mussels
  • 600ml (1 pint) dry white wine
  • 1kg (lb) ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 cm (⅓in) dice
  • 6 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh flat-parsley leaves
  • 1 cup sliced spring onions
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper


Bring the wine to the boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Mix the tomato with the cumin, basil, parsley, onions, olive oil and pepper. Add half of this to the boiling wine and tip all the mussels on top. Pour on the remaining tomato mixture and give it all a stir. Bring back to a full boil with the lid on and don’t look for 5 minutes. Then tip the mussels into bowls, discarding any that refuse to open as they may not be good. Serve with finger bowls – it’s the best way to eat them.