Easy Chinese-Style Mussels Recipe

Enjoy this Southern Chinese recipe for steamed mussels

This easy Chinese-style mussels recipe combines fresh seafood with pungent black bean sauce, sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, and chilis. 

First you quickly steam the mussels.  Then you make the sauce, and pour it over the mussels.  The whole process is so speedy that total cooking time may be less than 5 minutes, depending on how fast your mussels cook! 

We adapted this recipe, which we love, from one of our favorite Martin Yan cookbooks, Chinese Cooking.  We simplified the cooking process, slightly altered the amounts of ingredients, and even added the cilantro - so if you don't like it, blame us, not Chef Yan!  But we hope you'll love it as much as we do.

We usually serve this Chinese-style mussels recipe with steaming bowls of white rice as part of a multi-dish Chinese meal. 

How to make this Chinese-style mussels recipe

Serves 4 as part of a meal with several other dishes. 

                                   * * *

  • 1/4 cup white wine, water, or chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar or dry sherry
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese-style black bean sauce
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

                                   * * *

  • 3 tablespoons canola or other mild-flavored cooking oil
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced vertically and then cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

                                    * * *

  • 3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)


Like many Chinese restaurants, this Chinese-style mussels recipe works best if you assemble ingredients ahead of time - but don't worry, this is quick and easy!  Here's all you need to do:

  • In one small bowl, mix together the white wine (or water or chicken broth), rice vinegar (or sherry), black bean sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch, and sugar.
  • Have all other ingredients nearby.


Add half an inch of water to your widest skillet, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the mussels in one layer, and cover the skillet.  Cover the skillet.  Steam the mussels just until the shells open.  Depending on your mussels, this may take 2 to 5 minutes. 

As soon as the mussels open, use a slotted spoon to remove them.  Put them into the individual dishes that you want to serve them in.  Keep the cooking liquid.

Add the oil to a saucepan over medium heat, and add the scallions, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant - 10 seconds. 

Add the mixture containing the black bean sauce.  Add the reserved cooking liquid from the mussels.  Cook, stirring, until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens.  Remove from the heat, and stir in the sesame oil. 

Drizzle the sauce evenly over the mussels in each bowl.  Sprinkle a little of the cilantro over each bowl.


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