Clams and Mussels In A Saffron Cream Sauce... Need I Say More?

What can I say about the fruits of the sea that nature hasn't already said in its display of variety, vivid colors, and mouth watering flavors? I can't think of anyone who has not included jewels from the deep in their list of top 10 foods. And if there is, that person has not been in my kitchen yet.

One of the all time favorite dishes that I like making is my Clams and Mussels in a Saffron Cream Sauce. Whether you choose to present it as a first course or the entree, its presence, aroma, and flavor is sure to impress your dinner guests and they will be tugging at your sleeves for the recipe. The wonderful thing about this dish is that it is so simple to make and takes less than 30 minutes from prep to dinner table.

Let's start by getting our ingredients together:

1 1/2 lbs. fresh clams (the bigger the better)
1 1/2 lbs. fresh mussels (debearded)
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of large capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon of coursely ground pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
2 pinches of saffron threads
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
1 3/4 cups of seafood stock
1/4 cup of cream
2 tablespoons of anise liquor (Ricard, Pernod, Ouzo) or 1/2 teaspoon of anise extract

Prepare all of your ingredients before you start cooking, making sure the clams are washed in cold water and the mussels are washed and "debearded". The hairy mossy growth on the mussels needs to be removed. Just grab it and pull it out. I think the Old Man In The Sea came back as a mussel.

Get a pan that is at least 10 inches in diameter at the bottom and 3 inches deep, with a lid. Spray Pam and add your olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add onions and red pepper, stir, and saute for about 2 minutes or until onions get translucent. Next, add your garlic and 1 tablespoon of butter, stir, and continue to cook for another minute. Now you want to add your shellfish and stir so that everything is coated.

Stir for about a minute and add your fish stock, anise liquor or extract, tomato paste, ground pepper, saffron threads, and capers. Bring to a vigorous boil, cover tightly, and lower heat to low. Cook covered for 5 minutes, then remove all the clams and mussels and set aside in a deep (2 inch) serving dish. Now add the cream and the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan with the liquid and stir until butter has completely melted and sauce has begun to slightly thicken. This should take only about a minute and begin to bubble. Taste for flavor. There should be no need for salt, trust me, it should be just right. Turn heat off and spoon over the clams and mussels and present it to your dinner guests.

This will serve 4 dinner guests as a first course and 2 if presented as an entree. When serving, make sure to spoon some sauce in each plate and have some bread of your choice to sop up any remaining sauce. This dish is so wonderful you won't believe it. I can't encourage you enough to try it at your next dinner gathering. Just close your eyes and you'll think you're having dinner at a seaside restaurant in the South of France. Bon Appetit!


  1. I love mussels. A bowl of mussels and some light toasted baguette please.

  2. I'm definitely adding this to my recipe book.

  3. I just bought mussels to try this, it sounds wonderful