How to Cook New Zealand Green Mussels

A handful of freshly harvested New Zealand green mussels.
Image Credit: Dmitry Naumov/iStock/Getty Images

New Zealand green mussels glisten like plump jewels in a decorative case. The iridescent green shells house the large cream or coral-hued meat that enthusiasts praise for their delicate flavor. Mussels are low in fat and calories, and are good sources of calcium and vitamin B-12. Grown on ropes suspended in the ocean, New Zealand mussel cultivation does not negatively impact the ocean floor as do some other forms of aquaculture. Reports of green mussel extract as having beneficial effects on asthma and arthritis remain unproved as of 2011.

Step 1

Remove the stored mussels from the refrigerator and rinse them with cold water. Scrub the mussels with a stiff brush and tear off any beads or materials that cling to the shell. Tap any slightly-open mollusks and make sure that they close tight in reaction. Discard any mussels that remain open.

Step 2

Saute some finely-chopped shallots or onion with olive oil in a sturdy sauce pan. Peel, smash and finely chop garlic and add to the mixture after it has softened and turned translucent. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 3

Add some white wine to the pan and allow the liquid to boil off some of the alcohol. Add the mussels to the bubbling mixture and cover with a lid. Shake the pan back and forth to distribute the mussels in the pan and cook them until the shells open completely, which usually takes 5 to 7 minutes.

Step 4

Serve the mussels in their shells, or remove them and serve separately in the cooking sauce.

Things You'll Need

  • Sturdy pan with cover

  • Cooking oil

  • Onions

  • Shallots

  • Wine

  • Garlic


Create different tastes by varying the cooking liquid and fats. Use butter, Pernod and cream for a classic French taste, or chiles, ginger and lemongrass for an Asian twist. Mussels work well in soups as long as you do not overcook them. As in any seafood cookery, overcooking turns mussels leathery and tough.


Mussels, as all other mollusks, are very perishable. Keep them refrigerated at all times, and never seal them in a plastic bag or submerge them in water as this can kill them. You must keep them alive until you cook them or they will spoil.