How to Cook Mussels
Nothing adds tastiness to a recipe like the salty flavor of mussels. Mussels are high in lots of valuable protein and minerals which make them a great addition to your weekly diet. Mussels are low in cholesterol and fat and are a crucial part of a successful heart healthy diet. But, because mussels are fairly delicate and highly fragile, it is important to learn how to cook mussels correctly. Some adequate preparation is required to guarantee the safety and quality of your meal. But anybody with a pan can easily make mussels for a wonderful homemade supper.
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Buy Fresh Mussels
Acquire mussels from a place that you trust. You should only be buying fresh live mussels with tightly closed shells. When buying good quality mussels, they will smell like any other good seafood, fresh like the smell of the sea. Throw away any mussels which have opened after you have taken them home, especially mussels which have cracked or broken shells. Cooking fresh mussels will take several minutes to be ready dependent on the power of heat used, the amount of cooking liquid is used, and the number of mussels that you are cooking.
- Begin by cleaning and debearding your mussels. They need to be fully cleaned and prepared before they are ready to boil. Pull off mussel beards using a knife. The beard is easily identified as a brown bit hanging between the join of the shell.
- If you find any open mussels, then you need to do the tap test to check whether or not they are alive. Tap the mussels lightly on your worktop and if they do not close up then you should reject them.
- Over a high heat, heat up two tablespoons per 12 mussels of olive oil in a wide pan. You can add wine to the pan at this stage according to taste and boil for a couple of minutes.
- Insert the mussels into the pan. Add additional ingredients at this point such as chopped onion or parsley if so desired. Put a lid on the pan and boil the mussels for around 4 minutes, occasionally giving your pan a gentle shake. You will notice when the mussels are boiled as this is when they begin to open up.
Wrap them up in the refrigerator in newspaper before you cook them. You can also store them in the fridge in an airtight container. You should avoid your live mussels from getting get too cold as this may kill them. Remember not to seal mussels in a plastic freezer bag as to stay fresh they need air.
Freshwater kills mussels so do not leave them soaking in water. And if they are left in saltwater for too long, mussels run out of oxygen and die. Left over mussels can be pickled once cooked or brined in order to store them. Use cooked mussels within a couple of days. Also, cooked mussels can be frozen for use later.
How to Cook Frozen Mussels
Because mussels have such a short life span, it makes them perfect to freeze for later. When it comes to cooking frozen mussels one of the best ways to cook them is to steam them. All you need to do is steam them still in their shell for around four minutes in a pan with a lid, over medium-high heat on the stove. You can steam them with butter, extra virgin olive oil and garlic for added flavor. Simply reduce the heat once the water has boiled and simmer for a couple of minutes.
- You need to store fresh mussels in your fridge. You can do this for up to several days, by keeping them wet with a damp cloth to keep them alive until you go on to prepare them. Fresh mussels can be flash boiled for 30 seconds if they are still tightly closed and can be made ready to freeze. However, if you cook them totally before freezing this will make sure that they are safe to defrost and eat.
- Do not cook fresh mussels which appear to have died as it is not possible to guarantee their freshness. To test for freshness, tap lightly on an opened mussel and the shell should close up to let you know that the mussel is still very much alive.
- Frozen mussels might accidentally open as a part of the process. Frozen mussels will still be absolutely safe to thaw and eat.
It is easy and simple to learn how to cook mussels and as they are so high in nutritional value, it is a skill you will not regret picking up.