Easy recipe for mussels so you will learn how to clean mussels, how to buy fresh ones, how to steam mussels in about 4 minutes and of course enjoy a delicious meal.
Serves 4 in less than 30 minutes (however cleaning mussels that aren’t cultivated, normally involves 1 and a half hours of soaking in salted water). Recipe originally posted by The Skinny Cook, 04th Januari 2006 (Fish and Sea-Food / Mussels / Belgium / Stove / No marination)
As the old Belgian saying goes: mussels are good to eat as long as the name of the month has an "R" in it.
This simple mussel recipe is delicious when served with bread to dip into the cooking-broth of the mussels.
Difference in wild and cultivated mussels: the latter should be ready to cook:
- Always ask your fishmonger for advice. Normally mussels spend a while in a tank so they will flush out any impurity, grit and sand themselves. This means that you just need to rinse the mussels under running water. Discard damaged, cracked or broken shells as well as mussels that don’t close themselves after you gently tap them e.g. on your kitchentable.
- Debearding mussels: The mussel beard is edible and harmless, but not really delicious. Therefore cut the beards off as much as possible or faster: put a dry towel around your fingers and pull the beard with one quick movement out of the mussel. Make sure you pull away the beard in the direction where the shells hinge (towards the tip side of the shell). Doing so in the other direction – where the shells open – could kill the mussel. Beards are part of the mussel, yet mostly removed before selling.
How to clean wild mussels:
- When you bought wild mussels, you need to wash them a few times: put them in a bucket, pour cold water and stir well with a wooden stick. Take the mussels one by one from the bucket, and give them a push between the thumb and forefinger: discard each mussel which opens after a slight push. If there are gray crusts on the shells, cut them off with a knife or scrub them with a brush.
- Remove the beards as mentioned above. Put the mussels in a different bucket, stir them again, wait a few minutes so that all the impurities fall to the bottom of the bucket and remove the mussels with your hands and put in a new bucket with water. Repeat this 2 times until your water runs clear.
- Let the wild mussels soak for 1 hour and a half in a cool place in salt water so that they can absorb water and remove the excess sand and grit in their shells.
- Whichever vegetables you add to the quick and easy broth: the best mussels recipes will include celery!
- Buying mussels:
- Ask your fishmonger how much mussels to by for how many people. Rule of thumb : each person eats about 2-3 pound (1kg-1.5kg), that is when the shells aren’t removed yet.
- Buy only mussels that are tightly closed, when you manage to pull a shell open with your bare hands, then you know that the mussel is not fresh. When you cannot open the mussels: that means they should be good and fresh.
- How long to cook mussels? Mussels are cooked when they open, which is after about 4 minutes of steaming. Ideal is using a pot with a glass lid, so you can see the progress of the mussels.
- Serving mussels:
- If after cooking you see mussels with sand in it, remove them, otherwise your guests will be literary grinding their teeth…
- 8 pound (4kg) mussels
- a lot of onions : at least 4 : sliced
- 1 green celery : sliced
- 1 leek : slice into rings
- 2 carrots : sliced
- a dash of vinegar or preferably white wine (at most 3 fluid oz, 100 ml)
- some butter to fry the onion
- pepper to taste
- no salt (to taste at most 1 teaspoon: do know that when the mussels open, they will release salted seawater in the broth)
How to steam mussels
This is an easy Belgian mussels recipe, given by my mother, who learned it from her mother… Those days, cleaning mussels needed to be done at home, so when you bought cultivated mussels, start reading from step 4!
- Clean the mussels : the shells should be black and smooth, without any "beards’ nor "crusty grey stuff".
- Put the mussels in a bucket of salted water, stir them around and leave them there for 1 and a half hour. : this gives the mussels the time to "dump" the sand they stil have inside!
- Take the mussels 1 by 1 out of the bucket. Press them between your thumb and fingers : any mussel that is open or opens has to be thrown away! We only want the mussels to be open after they are cooked. Drain the water in a colander.
- Take a big and high pot and melt the butter. Add onions and the other vegetables and fry until the onions are golden (about 5 minutes)
- Add the mussels on top, add salt and pepper and vinegar or white wine. Put the lid on the pot and cook on a low fire.
- Check the mussels : if the mussels are well opened, they are ready. If the mussels are still closed : shake them around in the pot and put back on a low fire.
- Serve the mussels with their broth when you serve them with bread. Of course: mussels and fries is also a winning serving combination.