It recently occurred to me that we’ve never posted a mussel recipe.
Which is basically, unforgivable.
What could be more perfect for a back to basics, quick and easy, (mostly) healthy cooking blog?
Nothing, I say.
Please accept my sincere apologies.
Mussels are an inexpensive, easily accessible and unbelievably simple to prepare meal option. I can buy a couple of pre-bundled pounds at any of the major grocery stores for about five bucks at the seafood counter.
Unlike some the other seafood options available in the supermarket, you don’t need to worry as much about their delivery date either, because you buy them live. Automatic freshness built right in!
The mussels available in grocery stores today are cultivated. Meaning, they’re grown on mussel ‘farms’ mostly on the east coast, but increasingly on the west coast too. If you’re concerned about the health of our fisheries and oceans, you’re hitting an environmentally friendly home run by choosing cultivated mussels too since they’re a perfectly sustainable seafood option.
What you’re looking at is a: well manicured nails. b: my kitchen sink. c: a beard.
A mussel beard. That hairy thingy sticking out the side of the mussel helps the little guy attach himself to something so he doesn’t float away from his mussel farm friends.
Generally, they should be removed in the cleaning process, and just before you plan on cooking them. You may not find a beard on every mussel, but remove the ones you do find by getting a firm grip and wiggling it firmly back and forth until the mussel lets go. It can be a bit of a tug ‘o war!
To further clean your mussels, run them under cold water and scrub away any further stringy or barnacle-like stuff from the shell. Toss any cracked shells. Any open mussels should be tapped gently against your counter top and you will see them slowly close up again if they’re alive (cool huh!?). If they remain open, toss ’em. On average I would say I get 3-4 cracked/dead mussels in each two pound bag.
Try to buy your mussels the same day you plan on cooking them. Once home from the store, if you have them in a plastic bag, poke a few holes in it or leave the top open and place them in the fridge until you’re ready to clean and de-beard them. This will keep them breathing.
This is a great seasonal recipe because Ontario plum tomatoes are ripe, ready and bursting with summer tomato flavour. With just a few simple high quality ingredients this transforms into a spectacularly flavourful meal.
Once your mussels are cooked until just opened, you can transfer them in to one large or several small serving dishes, removing and tossing any unopened mussels as you go. You really want to avoid overcooking them at all costs, which will give them a rubbery texture. Perfectly cooked mussels will practically melt in your mouth.
Make sure you have plenty of crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce at the bottom of your bowl too.
If you’re a mussel newbie, please report back on how you did!