- Fill a deep fat fryer or chip pan with sunflower oil and heat to 160°C/325°F. When hot, add the frites, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Place the live mussels in fresh water. Scrub and debeard the mussels, discarding any that are open or cracked, or remain open when they’re tapped. (Fresh mussels should look black and shiny and should only smell pleasantly of the deep sea – they should all close when they are tapped. Avoid any that smell 'fishy', look dry or remain open.)
- Place the onion, shallot and garlic in a saucepan with the oil, and gently sweat over a low to medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until slightly softened.
- Add the herbs, and pernod or pastis, if using, and mix with the onion mixture.
- Add the washed mussels to the pan, pour over the wine and bring slowly to the boil, then simmer gently whilst stirring. Continue until the mussels have opened – this can take between 2 to 5 minutes. Discard any that do not open.
- Add the creme fraiche if using, and mix through the mussels. Cover until the frites are cooked.
- Whilst the moules are cooking, turn up the deep fat fryer to 190°C/375°F. Add the frites back to the oil and cook for around 1 minute until golden and crispy.
- Serve the moules in a deep bowl with the frites on the side, together with plenty of napkins and a large bowl for the discarded shells.
To make the best frites, wash the uncooked potatoes in cold water and dry thoroughly before cooking. If you don’t want to make your own chips, use 350g oven chips instead, cooking them according to the pack instructions.