Recipe of the Week: Pan-Fried Mussels with Lovage Aioli

Whip up this tasty starter with the underutilized seasonal herb Lovage

By Compiled by Amy Pennington March 24, 2015


This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Poppy chef and owner Jerry Traunfeld discussed his favorite herb of the season in the April issue of Seattle Magazine. Here, he’s provided a delectable recipe using the favored herb, lovage, and pairing it with mussels—an equally choice crop of the season—to create a delicious dish suitable to start any fête of the season. 

Pan-Fried Mussels


  • 2 pounds large-sized fresh mussels, washed and beards removed
  • ½ cup dry white wine 1 cup all-purpose flour, or gluten free flour such as chickpea flour 
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • Olive oil for frying lovage aioli  
  • 5 – 10 lovage leaves 


  1. Put the cleaned mussels in a large pot and pour the wine over them. Cover and cook over high heat until all the shells open.
  2. Transfer to a colander to drain (you can save the liquid for a seafood soup, paella, or stew) then spread them out on a baking sheet and chill. Remove the meat from the shells, using a paring knife to aid if they cling. 
  3. Pat the mussels on a paper towel to dry them, then refrigerate until you are ready to fry. 
  4. Separate the shells and clean, rinse, and dry half of them. Discard the rest. 
  5. Prepare the lovage aioli and cut the lovage leaves into very fine strips. 
  6. Mix the flour with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in a large mixing bowl. Pour a ¼” depth of olive oil into a large skillet and place over medium heat. 
  7. Put half the mussels in the bowl of flour and toss until coated. Transfer them to a large fine strainer and shake off any excess flour. 
  8. Fry the mussels until lightly browned on the underside, then turn each and brown the other side. Use caution as the mussels might sputter and pop. Drain the mussels on paper towels and fry the second batch. 
  9. Arrange the mussel shells on a serving platter or plates and put a fried mussel in each shell. 
  10. Using two small spoons or a piping bag, top each with a small dollop of aioli. Sprinkle with the strips of lovage leaf and serve.

Lovage Aioli Recipe


  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 2 small or 1 large clove garlic 
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • A dash of Tabasco Sauce 
  • 1/3 cup lovage leaves 
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil 


  1. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic, salt, Tabasco, and lovage in a food processor. 
  2. Turn the machine on and slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream.  
Yield: Mussels serve 6 as first course; aioli makes 1 ½ cups, which is more than you will need for the mussels. Use the remaining aioli for sandwiches or salads.


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