Mussels with Horseradish Cream Recipe

Steam fresh mussels and add this horseradish dressing with aquavit liqueur for a unique culinary treat.

May/June 2017

  • Horseradish and caraway-scented liqeur make this simple dish unique.
    Photo by Stefan Wettainen

Total Hands-On Time: 20 min

Preparation Time: 5 min

Cook Time: 15 min

Yield: 4 servings

Scandinavians use horseradish creatively, in all sorts of ways. Here, in a Nordic riff on the classic French moules marinieres, mussels are steamed in a caraway-scented aquavit (available at most liquor stores) and finished off with a zesty dose of horseradish.


• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 large shallot, minced
• 1-1/4 cups aquavit
• 2 pounds mussels, cleaned
• 3 tablespoons heavy cream
• 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish, depending on pungency, plus more for garnish
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
• Freshly ground white pepper


1. Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium-low heat, add shallot and sauté until soft but not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in aquavit, then add mussels. Cover pot, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until mussels open wide (start checking around 5 minutes). Turn off heat and discard any mussels that didn’t open. With a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to large serving bowl.

2. Bring cooking liquid in pot to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Lower heat, add cream, horseradish and parsley, and simmer until flavors blend, about 2 minutes. Generously grind white pepper over top just before you pour sauce over mussels. Serve garnished with shaved horseradish.

Take a culinary trip with more Nordic food in The Nordic Diet: Healthy Eating with an Environmental Bent.