Seafood lovers owe it to themselves to try mussels, an often overlooked seafood. Many home cooks are afraid to tackle mussels as they think they’re hard to cook with, but once you master them, you’ll find that they’re easy to prepare. Here’s how to buy, store, prepare, and cook mussels.
Mussels are one of the seafood you’ll enjoy much more when it’s fresh. Sure you can get them frozen or tinned, but the flavor and texture can’t be beaten with fresh ones. When buying mussels, try and get ones that have tightly closed shells and that have a fresh, briny smell. For the main course, you should get about one pound per person and for an appetizer, about half of that.
Because mussels are living, it’s important to store them properly. If you plan on eating the mussels within a day or two, nestle them in a bowl and cover them with a damp kitchen towel. Avoid storing them in airtight containers or plastic bags as this will suffocate them.
Before you eat them, move them to the sink and rinse them off. Any cracked ones should be discarded as they’re probably dead. To check if the mussels are still alive, tap the shells gently against the counter and if they close, they’re okay to eat. For mussels that still have their “beards” attached (the wiry threads used to attach themselves to surfaces), remove them before cooking.
One of the beautiful things about this seafood is that its mild flavor makes it versatile for any cuisine. Some things you can pair them with include a cream-based sauce, a tomato-parsley recipe, or Thai flavors. Remember that mussels cook quickly, so lay out all your ingredients before you start cooking them.