Mussels have been part of our diet for hundreds if not thousands of years, there are well over a dozen edible species and they are eaten around the world. The peak season of the Blue or European mussels is October to March and nearly all UK mussels are now sustainably farmed. Mussels are high in protein and a good source of Zinc and Vitamin B12. Mussels can be smoked, boiled, steamed, roasted, barbecued, battered, or fried in butter or vegetable oil. Allow 400 gr to 650 gr of mussels per person for a generous portion.
To prepare your mussels first rinse them with plenty of cold running water and throw away any mussels with cracked or broken shells. Give any open mussels a quick squeeze, if they do not close immediately, throw them away as well as they are dead and not to be eaten and may be poisonous. Then using a small knife scrape the shell to remove any barnacles or dirt and pull out any beards by tugging towards the hinge of the mussel shell. If you intend to cook later that day, store in a plastic container in the bottom of your refrigerator covered with a damp tea towel.
In Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, mussels are steamed with white wine, garlic, and herbs and eaten with French Fries the classical ‘ moules-frites ’. In Spain, they are popular cooked in a simmer manner with added lemon, in soups and pickled in oil and vinegar flavoured with bay leaves, peppercorns, and paprika. Mussels are eaten in Chowder in New Zealand and America and in Cantonese cuisine in a spicy black bean broth. Mussels can be added to fish pies, seafood stews, and pasta dishes as well as being steamed.
For more information on sustainable seafood visit the Marine Stewardship Council.
Cooking with Mussels