Independence: 4. 10. 1830
Slice the potato into thin strips (2mm x 2mm) and rinse in salted water. Heat a deep fat fryer to 325°F/160°C (preferably using sunflower or groundnut oil). Place the frites/chips in and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Tip the mussels into a large bowl of cold water, rinse and then drain well and pull away any 'beards'. (Fresh mussels look black and shiny and should only smell pleasantly of the deep sea - the vast majority should be tightly closed. Avoid any that smell 'fishy', look dry or are mostly open.).
Place the chopped onion, shallot and garlic in a saucepan with the olive oil, gently sweat them over a low to medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until slightly soft.
Add the chopped herbs, and pernod or pastis if using and mix with the onion mixture.
Add the washed mussels to the pan and cover with dry white wine, bring slowly to the boil, then simmer gently whilst stirring. Continue until the mussels have opened - discard any that do not open, this can take between 2 to 5 minutes.
Add the creme fraiche if using, mixing through the cooked and opened mussles. Cover until the frites/chips are cooked.
Whilst the moules are cooking, turn up the deep fryer to 375°F/190°C and salt the frites/chips. Add the frites/chips back to the oil for around 1 minute until golden and crispy.
Serve the moules in a deep bowl with the frites/chips on the side - providinf plenty of napkins and a large bowl for the shells.
Note - to make the best frites/chips your uncooked frites/chips should be washed in cold water and dried thoroughly before cooking.
Moules frites is a serious classic in Belgian and French bistros, and for good reason: Mussels and crispy fries go together like chicken and grits, spaghetti and meatballs, ebony and ivory — well, you get the idea. The moules part — the mussels — are easy to make. The key is to clean these bivalves thoroughly. Plunge them in cool water and then remove the beards — those stringy, fuzzy bits attached to the shells — then run under cool water for good measure. Nothing ruins a big bowl o' mussels faster than the crunch of grit between your teeth.