We Should All Be Eating Mussels

Mussels are one of my absolute favourite things to eat. They were actually the first thing I ever cooked for my (now) husband. He was dead impressed – and you will be, too.

In addition to being really delicious, mussels have so much going for them. They’re cheap, elegant, easy and quick to cook, low calorie, full of vitamins, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. What a package deal!

If you’re not comfortable cooking mussels, there are just a few things you need to know in order to cook them safely and make them taste great. Don’t panic; it’s all incredibly easy.

Here are the rules for cooking mussels:

  1. Cook mussels soon after buying them (a day or two at most).
  2. Prepare the mussels just before cooking them. Once they are exposed to fresh water they will begin to die, so don’t wash them ahead of time.
  3. Prepare the mussels by soaking them in cold water, scrubbing the shells if they need a wash. Pull out any “beards” (the fibrous bit on the side). Throw away any cracked ones, or any ones that aren’t closed after soaking.
  4. Don’t overcook the mussels. Let them steam for 3 – 5 minutes, or until the shells have just opened.
  5. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened during cooking.

And that’s it.

My favourite way to cook mussels is the classic method of steaming them in a white wine and garlic broth, served with a huge hunk of bread to mop up the juices. You’ll need 1kg of mussels for every two people. Don’t forget the chilled bottle of white wine.

All you do is place a large pot with a lid over a medium-high heat. Saute some sliced garlic in butter for a minute or two, then add the cleaned and sorted mussels and a good splash of white wine. Lid on, steam for 3 – 5 minutes, tossing after a couple of minutes. And you’re done! Pile the mussels into bowls and spoon over the broth. (Leave the last bit of broth behind as it may contain a bit of sand or rubble.) Serve immediately, with cloth napkins and empty bowls for the shells. Did I mention white wine?

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