Food Country is a weekly web series featuring Chef Michael Smith and the flavours, people and stories of Prince Edward Island.
One week Food Country follows Michael as he explores the island, searching for fresh ingredients. The next week Food Country visits Michael’s home kitchen as he cooks and creates simple healthy food.
New episodes every Tuesday.
Episode 6> Mussels 101
Thanks to discovermussels.com for this great info, a great site to visit for all things mussel!
Where to Find Mussels?
You can enjoy fresh blue mussels at many restaurants as a delicious appetizer or main course, or pick them up at your local grocery store or seafood market to enjoy a great meal at home. Mussels are sold in mesh bags or can be found loose on the ice at the seafood counter.
Cultivated blue mussels are harvested year round – even through the winter – so they’re always fresh when you see them in the store.
How to Choose?
Fresh cultivated blue mussels often come with a tag that tells you when the mussels were harvested , a best by date as well as the nutritional information. This tag will be attached to the mesh bag, or you can ask for it at the seafood counter if buying them loose. An easy way to tell if they are fresh is to use your nose – they should smell like the ocean, fresh and salty.
You don’t have to eat them as soon as you get home, depending on the date you usually can buy and store them in your fridge at home for a few days before eating.
Store in your fridge
Fresh blue mussels can be stored at home in your refrigerator for a few days so you don’t have to eat them right away. Here’s how:
Take mussels out of mesh bag and place in a bowl or tray and cover with a damp cloth or paper towel to keep them moist. Do not store them in fresh water or in a sealed container. A small amount of liquid will drain from the mussels each day. To maximize their shelf life, drain this liquid daily.
Just before cooking rinse the mussels in fresh water in a pot or colander.
Once you’re ready to cook just take them out of the refrigerator and give one last smell to ensure freshness. They should smell fresh and salty, just like the ocean.
If you’ve cooked your fresh blue mussels and want to save them to enjoy later, that isn’t a problem. All you need to do is remove the meat of the mussels and place them in an air-tight container. Be sure to completely cover them with the broth they were cooked in. Now you will have mussels for your favorite chowder or pasta dish down the road. Mussels frozen this way will last for three to four months.
How to Cook
Fresh cultured blue mussels are easy to cook as well as being a healthy and easy meal option. They’re quick and tasty and can be eaten right out of the pot or used in a variety of recipes. Before you start cooking, you should always give your mussels a quick rinse. Cultured blue mussels are pre-cleaned so that’s really all you need to do. The fresh water will cause the mussels to close. If there are any that don’t close give them a quick tap, if they still don’t close at least partially, simply discard them.
Let’s Get Cooking
Fresh blue mussels are cooked by steaming.
Place a little bit of water in a pot, just 1 cup is often enough to provide the steam.
Turn on the heat to high.
Add the mussels to the pot and put on the lid.
When the steam is coming out from under the lid, peek and if the mussels are open they are done!
This will take 5 to 10 minutes depending on how much liquid you use, the strength of heat, the weight of the pot and the amount of mussels you have.
Tip the contents into a bowl and serve with some fresh crusty bread for soaking up the tasty broth – it’s that simple!
In place of water, you can also use wine or beer or other liquids to steam the mussels and add some unique flavour. Throw in some chopped garlic or onions to add more flavour.
It’s best if the pot heats up very quickly so use maximum heat. This allows the mussel meat to release better so it’s easily removed from the shell.
Be careful not to overcook mussels and definitely do not boil them covered in water like a potato or pasta as they will not open. Mussels need to steam not boil.
The broth left in the pot after steaming is delicious. Serve it with the mussels and use bread to dip.
Fresh blue mussels are a perfect choice for any occasion from a family meal, to an informal gathering, to a party. They’re always a tasty and easy way to serve up great food.