Grill Steamed Mussels

Based on a Dods MacFarlane’s Mussels in Bag recipe in my copy of Sue Lawrence’s Scots Cooking book. I blog a lot about my Chinese/Vietnamese/Asian life but I am actually (surprise surprise) Scottish. I can’t say the Scots are world renowned per se for their vast cuisine but I am looking to add more of it my cooking routine as a way to keep my grandparents and heritage nearer to my heart (by that I mean, in my tummy). As I read my way through James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small series, I am also collecting recipe ideas. At this rate, 2014 will showcase more Scottish items and more recipes that were my Grandmas, like her bonbons (the bomb-bomb)!

This method was unbelievably easy and produced at least one pot fewer than how I normally prepare shellfish. Here is my usual peasy squeesy way, using clams and mussels interchangeably. We have an indoor grill as part of our stove top that worked splendidly. I sliced the ginger in big chunks this first time around but I think will mince or chop better going forward so it mixes better. The flavor still definitely was infused. For future versions, I want to try finishing with a cold smoke, adding some bacon, maybe lemongrass, curry and coconut milk or sprigs of rosemary…

Apologies for the not stellar indoor and tin foil pictures….. it’s tough blogging in the Pacific Northwest in the winter….

Grill Steamed Mussels

Ingredients – nothing is very exact with this so don’t stress out….

  • 2 lbs live mussels, scrubbed and “debearded” [note: 2 lbs made for enough for two full entrées, so you could serve 4-5 as appetizers); clams would work too
  • A little olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
  • 3-4 green onions/scallions or white onions or scallions, ½ to 1 cup
  • 1 inch fresh ginger sliced or chopped, about 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ cup white wine or beer or chicken broth, might need some more if making multiple pouches
  • Lemon wedge for squeezing on at the end, but not necessary


  • Heat up your grill. Prepare the foil for making the foil pouches. Cut about a 16 x 12 inch rectangle for each pound of mussels. We made two for two entrees but if making smaller portions just make more pouches. You just divide up all the ingredients equally between the pouches
  • In each foil piece, turn up the edges so liquid doesn’t run out while preparing. Coat the bottom with olive oil. I think you could use butter too. Add in the ginger, onion, garlic. Then add the mussels and pour on the beer or wine.
  • Fold up the edges and crimp the side and top well so that liquid doesn’t leak out.
  • Place on grill near the hottest part and cook for 10 minutes until the mussels open. We covered our with a wok lid since we were indoors, and had the exhaust fan going, but if outside, you wouldn’t need to do this.
  • When cooked, carefully move to bowls for serving. Be careful when opening to avoid getting burned by steam.
  • Serve with crusty bread for dipping. The mussels release juices into the mix, making for a great sauce for slurping. We ended up dumping out our pouches into bowls to mix the ingredients around.

So who is Dods Macfarlane? No idea but the cookbook shared his story about gugas, for which we have substituted mussels….

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