Preparing seafood at home can be a little daunting. It can be pricier than land animal meat. It’s often a little trickier to cook. And it also comes with a higher risk for food poisoning. But, the humble mussel is so cheap and oh so easy that it’s a great place to start.
A couple of simple tips to set you on the right path. Look for mussels between October and March. Look for live mussels being sold on ice. Check the shells, they should be a deep blue, purple or black color and appear shiny. Dull shells might mean dead mussels. Talk with your fish monger and ask about where the mussels came from, how they were transported and how fresh they are. lastly, watch the fish monger, if he isn’t picking through the mussels and discarding dead or unusable mussels than shop elsewhere.
Step 1: Buy fresh mussels and cook them within 24 hours.
Step 2: Get a bowl full of ice and nestle the plastic bag they came in into the ice and store in your fridge until ready to use.
Step 3: Once ready to use remove from fridge and rinse them off in cold water.
Step 4: Let them soak in cold water for 20-30 minutes
Step 5: Remove any unusable mussels. Any mussels that don’t close all the way or that have cracked shells must be thrown out. If you aren’t sure about a mussel tap it sharply on the counter and leave it for a minute. If it doesn’t shut completely than trash it.
Step 6: Remove the beard. Stroke the side of the mussel until a small, hairy tuft is found and then pull down sharply towards the hinge. Not all your mussels will have a beard but you want to get rid of the ones that do have them.
Step 7: Use in your favorite recipe. Any mussels that don’t open when you cook them should be discarded.
I really hope this helped! If you are looking for a good recipe might I suggest my Mussels and Italian Sausage Fra Diavolo.