Now buying live mussels was a Thursday night whim when I saw the bags at my local Asda fish counter. Now I do love seafood, and anyone has read a few of my posts knows this. However, I have never made mussels from scratch as it seemed mega daunting so I always opted to buy the ones that are ready cooked and need heating. Now the best reason to eat mussels (aside from the taste) is that the way of growing them is very sustainable and environmentally friendly compared to a lot of fish. In addition mussels are stupidly cheap when you can get them. I got a whole kilogram for £3.50 which lead to my friend Miss S coming to get some post work on the Friday night due to the short shelf life of most seafood.
Which brings me to somethings you need to think about when preparing, cooking and eating mussels.
1. Remember raw seafood has a very short shelf life so buy them on the day you want to eat it or the day before.
2. When you take your mussels home they might come in a plastic bag. When you put them in the fridge remove from the bag or the mussels will suffocate and go bad.
3. Pick over your mussels and discard any with a broken shells.
4. Once cooked if mussels don’t open, don’t eat them. If you find any more with broken shells don’t eat them.
5. If you’re unsure whether your mussels are still alive, give one or 2 a light tap. The shells will slowly move if still alive.
Now, aside from the list, this recipe is actually way easier than I thought and be scaled up according to the number of people. The recipe below can be served as a main course for 1 or a starter for 2.
For this recipe you will need:
400-500g live mussels (I didn’t measure how many I took from the bag before I gave the rest to Miss S)
2 shallots (I actually used small red onions)
A good sized piece of butter
2 cloves of garlic
A glass of wine
Crusty bread and salad to serve
Pick over your mussels and look out for broken shells. Cut off any pieces of rope or fibrous material that is on the mussels and give the mussels a good wash.
Peel and dice the onion and slice the garlic. Melt the butter in a pan which has a lid.
Add the onion and garlic at fry until soft.
Add the mussels to the pan and pour the white wine over everything.
Cover the pan and boil for 3-4 minutes until the mussel shells open. The shells being open means they’re safe to eat.
Once the shells are open your mussels are ready to eat (and in my case pick over for rope – it didn’t affect the taste)
A perfect food for a sunny day! Prepare to get sticky fingers. It’s difficult to eat mussels in their shell in an elegant way!