Seafood lovers around the globe vouch for fresh water mussels and enjoy eating them as a starter or main course whenever they go out. However, if you have the right knowledge to buy the freshest mussels and cook them in the healthiest possible way, then nothing can beat a homemade mussels recipe.
Here is a complete guide to buy the right kind of mussels, their cleaning and preparation and how to cook them in the most exotic way to suit your taste buds.
Mussels can be made in a number of ways. They can be baked, grilled, roasted or stir fried. Apart from eating them as a wonderful starter, you can also add them in salads, pastas, vegetable casseroles and other dishes to complete a wholesome meal. The best part about mussels is that they do not need a longer time to cook and overcooking may spoil their soft texture.
- Picking and Selecting Mussels: Needless to say, being borne in the sea water it is important to pick the right kind of mussels to avoid organisms or any other sources of food poisoning. While buying them from a store makes sure they are kept on ice for ultimate freshness. Avoid going for a canned mussels pack. It will have an old and stale taste to it. Go for fresh mussels and use them as soon a possible. Storing them in fridge may again spoil the taste. Fresh mussels should smell a little salty. If they have a fish kind of smell, they probably aren’t fresh.
- Cleaning and Preparing Mussels: Cleaning the mussels is a must before you start the cooking process. Scrub clean the mussels gently under running water. Avoid soaking them deep in water. Remove any barnacles or byssus with a knife. Discard mussels with cracked or chipped shells. The mussels that you have picked for cooking should not have open shells. Go for only closed shell mussels that are alive inside. Dead mussels taste bad after cooking.
- Recipe for steamed mussels: Steamed mussels are the traditional way to cook mussels which can be further added onto another recipe. Mussels can be steamed either in water or a pot of white wine or even both. Pour the liquor of your choice in a large pot. 1 or 2 cups is sufficient for around one pound of cleaned mussels. Do not add much salt or seasonings as the mussels liquid itself is rich in brine. Cook on a high heat for five minutes till all the mussels have opened up.
- Baked or Grilled mussels: It is important to steam the mussel as explained above before proceeding for baking or grilling. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Remove the shells of the mussels and discard any unopened steamed mussel. Grease the tray and keep the mussels side by side. Sprinkle salt, seasonings and herbs of your choice and let them cook for approximately 10 minutes. A grill may require even lesser time to cook.
- Storing cooked mussels: After cooking and cooling the mussels, if you are not eating them right away it is important to store them in an airtight container in a refrigerator. They should be consumed in 2-3 days. However, frozen mussels can be stored for as long as three months in a freezer bag or a sealed container.
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