Mussels fried with tomato, black pepper and fennel seeds

Karen Martini
Mussels fried with tomato, black pepper and fennel seeds.
Mussels fried with tomato, black pepper and fennel seeds. Photo: Marina Oliphant

This simple but flavourful dish takes minutes to prepare. Use supremely fresh mussels.


100ml-120ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra

5 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 tbsp fennel seeds, roughly ground

12 small, ripe tomatoes off the vine, sliced in rounds

1 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly crushed

1kg large black mussels, cleaned and de-bearded

100ml white wine

1 handful fennel fronds

3 large slices sourdough cut lengthways, toasted or grilled and rubbed lightly with garlic


Place a large, deep-sided frypan over high heat. Add the olive oil and fry the garlic and fennel seeds for two minutes.

Add the tomatoes and lots of black pepper and cook for one minute to soften.

Add the mussels and wine, cover with a lid and cook for two minutes. Shake the pan and cook for a further two minutes.

Check all the shells are open. If not, force them open in your hand with a pair of tongs, using a tea-towel to protect your hand. Remove the mussels from heat, toss through the fennel fronds.

To serve, pile the mussels on toasted sourdough, reduce the juices if needed, pour over the juices and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.

Drink Pinot grigio.