The best way to enjoy mussels is by yourself

Mussels make the ideal dinner for one.
Mussels make the ideal dinner for one, using only your fingers and crusty bread to sop up all their flavorful broth.
(Hanna Carter / For The Times)

How to Boil Water

With so many of you having to stay home and cook for the first time — ever or more than you have in a long time — we get that it can be overwhelming to have to cook all your meals from scratch. So, we’re here to get you started.

Each day we’re going to post a new skill here and go in detail about how to do it — a resource for cooking basics so you can get food on the table and get through this.

A series of simple tutorials for making some basic recipes at home.


Lesson 49: Mussels
I love seafood but my partner detests it. In the beginning of our relationship, it was a thorn in my side, prompting me to make many ill-fated — and ill-advised — attempts at forcing him to eat shrimp, fish or, God forbid, a bivalve. But eventually I realized that I could have my fish and eat it too by simply making seafood meals for one. I eat what I want, and he eats what he wants — that we eat together is really the point of it all anyway.

One of my go-to seafood-for-one meals is mussels. They’re quick to cook, can be flavored with whatever ingredients you have in your kitchen and are best eaten out of a big bowl, sat in your lap with nothing but a chunk of crusty bread to help you eat them while you dig in with your fingers.

The rules are simple: Sweat an allium in a little fat, pour in some kind of flavorful liquid — I like wine but you can always use broth or stock — then steam the mussels until they’re done. For this iteration, I char thinly sliced shallots ever so slightly to give the broth a smoky depth. I stir in butter and miso for richness and a briny smack that pairs well with the salinity of the mussels’ own juices. I’ve been steaming them in rosé lately because that’s what I have on hand, but you can use any white wine or even a bubbly pet-nat if you can bear to sacrifice a cup of it to your dinner gods.

Start to finish, it’s done in 25 minutes, which is just long enough to toast some bread for yourself and for your partner to reheat whatever they’re going to eat while you enjoy your perfect seafood party for one.

Mussels in Smoky Miso Broth

Time 25 minutes
Yields Serves 1