Mussels with Rouille


When I was leaving Berowra Waters Inn, it was before the iPhone.

There were many extraordinary recipes from this restaurant that I wished to be able to cook long after my memory failed me.

The leftover menus became scrap paper with many uses.

I used them to write down my favourite recipes and this is one of them or part thereof. The Mussel Soup served at Berowra Waters Inn was, and still is, the most delicious soup I have ever eaten.

The preparation of the mussels is the first step to making this soup and is already a meal.

The rouille recipe is my adaptation of Damien Pignolet’s from his book French. I have added the anchovies, the sugar and the Chardonnay Vinegar, probably as a result of my training in Thai cookery with David Thompson and Martin Boetz where the sweet, sour and salty elements are taken to a heightened level.

Image Credit: Tomasz Machnik

Mussels with Rouille

This rouille recipe is my adaptation of Damien Pignolet’s from his book French.


  • Mortar and pestle
  • Small whisk
  • large, heavy based pot with a tight fitting lid


For the Rouille

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 0.5 teaspoon saffron dissolved in 1 teaspoon warm water
  • 4 long red chillies deseeded
  • 100 gms bread day old, soaked in a little milk to soften, then excess milk squeezed out
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 400 mls olive oil extra virgin
  • 6 anchovies Ortiz anchovies are wonderful
  • 2 pinches white castor sugar
  • Chardonnay Vinegar to taste (I use ALTO Chardonnay Vinegar)

For the Mussels

  • 2 kg mussels
  • 1 red onion peeled and sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50 ml olive oil extra virgin
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 5 cloves crushed garlic


For the Rouille

  • Using a mortar and pestle, pound the chilli, garlic and anchovies to a paste.
  • Add the paprika, saffron, Dijon mustard and the yolks and mix well.
  • Squeeze the soaked bread of excess milk and pound into your mix.
  • Transfer this mixture to a bowl and gradually whisk in the oil as for mayonnaise.
  • Season with the sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar.

For the Mussels

  • Scrub and debeard your mussels and set in a colander to drain any excess water.
  • (If you have purchased already prepared mussels such as Kinkawooka, it is still a good idea to give them your personal attention for a once-over check to ensure all is as it should be. The other benefit of these mussels is that they come with mussel liquor in the bag which is worth saving and straining over muslin to add to your cooking liquid for additional flavour.)
  • Heat your heavy based pot. A tightly fitting lid for this pot is important, as you want to steam the mussels open.
  • Add the oil and fry the onions to soften slightly but you do not want them to colour too much so reduce the heat if necessary. Then add the aromatics (bay leaves, thyme and garlic) and cook for a minute to release their flavours.
  • Turn the heat up to full and add your mussels, the white wine and any mussel liquor. Stir once and then cover until the mussels start to open. This will only take a minute or so. They are individual creatures and some may be more excited to open than others. I remove them as they open and allow the stubborn mussels to bathe a little longer until they succumb to the heat.
  • Once all the mussels have opened, strain the cooking juices back over the mussels and serve immediately with the rouille and sourdough bread.
Season: Spring, Summer
Category: Sauces & Vinaigrettes, Seafood

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out ! Leave a comment below and tag @birdcowfish on Instagram and hashtag it #goodsimpledelicious.

Alex Herbert © Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.