Mussels are one of the most common bivalve species of small marine or river molluscs. They have been harvested and eaten since ancient times. Archaeological excavations have revealed that mussels have been consumed on seashores since the Stone Age. The Ancient Roman chronicles say that when the number of mussels began to decrease drastically, people tried to cultivate and breed them artificially.
In ancient times, they were an easy prey. They were considered a nutritious and tasty food. In ancient Greek culinary literature, mussels are found in the recipes of many exquisite dishes. At that time they were also used as a source of a substance that was used to produce the first synthetic fabric in history, very similar to silk.
The Irish were the first to breed mussels specifically in the 13th century. Today, they are raised on special farms for sale.
In appearance, mussels have a dark, oval-shaped shell. The mussel shell colour can be purple, brown or greenish in colour.
In Japan, this seafood is considered a symbol of a love union. A traditional clam soup is always served at weddings.
Gourmets love to eat mussels, which remotely resemble the taste of an oyster. Although the two molluscs taste differently. Oysters have a muscle that binds the shells together, while mussels lack this muscle, making it easy to open the shell. The cost of mussels is much lower than that of oysters.
The meat of the mussels is yellowish in colour. It consists mainly of dense fibres. The edible part of the mussel is everything between the shells.The body of the mussel inside the shell itself is covered with a fleshy film – the mantle.
Mussels contain a minimum of fat. They are low in calories but are also very satiating. Mussel meat has a high nutritional value.
There are many recipes for dishes with mussels. They can be used in paella, salads, soups, mashed potatoes, sauces, etc. Eat mussels with wine – jyj is the perfect complement to their delicious flavour.
To cook mussels properly and deliciously – you have to choose them correctly. Don’t buy a tainted product.
- Pay attention to the integrity of the mussel shell. It must not be damaged, scratched or cracked. With a shiny shell surface.
- The live mussel shells should be tightly closed or, in some cases, slightly ajar. If you tap lightly on the shell, the live mussel will quickly close it.
- The sink must be closed.
- A loud clicking sound should be heard when a fresh shell is opened.
- Frozen mussels – must not be sticky in a bag or in a box.
- The colour of the clam inside the shell is white, cream or pink. Mussel meat with a different colour indicates a stale product.
- The mussels you buy should only smell like the sea or iodine. And no other extraneous odours.
- Mussels with a lot of weight can cause suspicion. There may be sand inside the shell.
- The shell has opened and the clam is visible;
- cracks in the sink;
- an unpleasant smell is heard,
- the texture of the edible part is disturbed;
- the sink did not open during cooking;
- if even one spoiled mussel goes into the pan or saucepan, the entire dish cannot be consumed.
Consumption of Mussels
It is a versatile product. Mussels have an unrivalled and unique flavour – allowing them to be included in almost any diet. Cook them no later than 36 hours after purchase – otherwise they may spoil.
Mussels are boiled, fried, stewed, pickled, salted and even eaten raw. Raw clams are not usually consumed. But there are gourmets who eat them with a splash of lemon juice.
Mussels can be baked, souped, kebabbed and marinated.
When cooked, take the meat out of the shell – you can add it to various salads and second courses.
Fresh mussels in their shells are mostly sold peeled and frozen. The manufacturers indicate on the packaging whether they are cooked or not yet. Mussel meat goes well with vegetables, pasta and rice. They are usually eaten together with various sauces – garlic, cream and others. Often they are used as an ingredient in other dishes. Mussel meat is the main ingredient in some seafood pizzas. They are also used to prepare first courses.
The mussels are processed into canned food and dried food products. The shells are used to produce mineral fodder or lime. The following canned products are produced: mussels in their own juice, mussel pilaf, mussel meat with rice, mussels in tomato. In the production of canned food (except canned food in its own juice) they are fried.
- Serve the mussels with white wine for a richer flavour.
- Eat shellfish caught between June and February – they are not as tasty and fatty in spring.
- They must not be cooked for a long time – they will be dry and unpalatable. The rule of thumb for boiling calamari applies to them – no more than 3-5 minutes.
- Cook the mussels for at least 7 minutes if they are fresh and at least 10 minutes if they are frozen.
How do You Cook Mussels?
Mussels can be cooked in several ways.
Blanching with water
The mussels can be simmered for a few minutes. This blanching option will eliminate the clams’ unpleasant smell and retain their nutrients.
The process of blanching with water:
- Place the clams in a colander for cooking in water.
- Immerse in boiling water with the spices, salt and roots for 3 minutes.
- Add onion, allspice, dill, bay leaves and lemon juice to the water to taste.
- Take out and cool down.
Steam blanched mussels are more nutritious, flavourful, the product does not lose weight and there is no loss of extractive substances than when blanched with water.
The steam blanching process is carried out as follows:
- Place the clams on the steam cooking grid.
- Add the onion cut in half, peppercorns and bay leaf to a saucepan with boiling water.
- Add herbs or lemon zest to the blanching broth, which will give the mussels extra flavour.
- Bring the water to the boil and place the mussels in the pan.
- Treat them with steam for 15-20 minutes.
- Take out and cool down.
The cooking time depends on the size of the seafood and the species. To get a tasty and succulent dish, cook:
● cleaned freshly frosted – 5-7 minutes;
● peeled cooked frozen food – 2-3 minutes;
● fresh in the shells – 3-7 minutes;
● freshly frosted in the shells – 5-10 minutes;
● cooked-frozen in shells – 3-4 minutes.
Simmer the mussels in a little water for main courses and snacks. You can use milk instead of water.
Takin’ in the water:
- Add minced onions, spices, pepper, salt, a little dry white wine and some water to the mussels in a saucepan.
- Cover the pot with a lid and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for 30-35 minutes. This way, the mussels are cooked to perfection.
Simmering in milk – fill the mussels with milk instead of water. The process is similar to that of poaching in water.
- In the boiling water, add seasoning and salt according to your taste.
- Pour the mussels into the boiling water.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes. If there is a delay, the meat will become sticky and stiff, like rubber.
- Collect the foam that has formed on the surface of the water.
- Boil for up to 7 minutes and remove from the heat.
- You can strain it in a sieve or colander, or simply drain it.
- The dish is ready. You can pour lemon juice or sauce over them to improve the flavour.
- Preparation. Rinse the mussels under running water beforehand to remove substances that can spoil their taste and harm your health.
- Remove the grooves on the body. These are what attach the shells to the mussels, making them tough and tasteless.
- Once the water and spices are boiling, turn down the heat to heat the pan and only then add the mussels.
- Soak them in boiling water, keeping the time clearly to 2-3 minutes after the water has boiled.
Cook mussels in their shells in water, wine or broth.
One of the most popular cooking methods is the seafood method:
1. Rinse thoroughly.
2. Immerse in boiling water.
3. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then drain.
4. Boil a new one, add the spices.
5. Lower the mussels again.
6. Ready – when their shells open on their own.
The mussels are boiled in wine with garlic and lemon. The muscle with the mantle and the viscera with all the liquid are considered edible.
A variety of sauces complement the flavour of the clams perfectly, a wonderful combination with tomato, garlic, wine and cheese sauces.
To prepare soups
- Cook the mussels in plenty of water.
- Parsley root, celery, carrots and onions are added during the cooking process.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 40-50 minutes.
- The broth is infused for 10-15 minutes.
- Broth prepared in this way is perfect for further use in first courses.
- Cooked mussel meat.
- Rinse the muscles and mantle in water.
- Cut into small pieces and put into glass jars.
- The marinade filling consists of shell broth, vinegar, bitter and allspice, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and salt.
- Heat this potion to boiling point, strain and pour into the jars with the meat.
- Count down the cooking time from when the water comes to the boil.
- Do not overcook the mussels – they will turn out tasteless.
- After cooking, remove them with a slotted spoon – do not leave them in the stock.
- Add various spices, fish stock, white dry wine or cider to the boiling water for flavour and aroma. К
- You can make a delicious sauce from the broth in which the mussels were boiled.
Fry the mussels on a high heat with plenty of oil. Garlic, finely chopped herbs and spices can be added.
- Fresh mussels can be fried in a pan immediately;
- If the seafood has been frozen, defrost it before cooking. If not defrosted, it will turn out to be a stew and not a roast;
- The clams can be fried either in their shells or peeled, depending on the dish to be cooked;
- Mussels are great with butter – it gives a delicate aroma and makes the flavour richer and milder, but they will also be great with olive oil or refined sunflower oil.
Pan-fry the mussels as a stand-alone dish, adding only the onions.
Large mussels are used. Boil them, open the shells and place a filling on each shell with the clam. Pesto, cheese, mushrooms, vegetables, garlic or spicy butter, poultry and prawns are good. Cut the mussel meat into bite-sized pieces and combine with the total filling. Let the shells with the filling stand under the grill for a few minutes or bake in the oven.
Stuffed mussels are a common representative of Southern Italian cuisine. There are many variations of this food in Italy.
Turkish stuffed mussels are very hearty and have a spicy flavour. The stuffing uses arborio rice, cinnamon, nutmeg, pine nuts, sweet and spicy paprika, sultanas, garlic, onions and seasonings. Turkish-style cooking is done using a saucepan. Fill mussels with stuffing, fold the shell halves, tie them with cooking thread and put them in a single layer in the bottom of the pan. Make sure to press the mussels with a plate and cook them for 10-15 minutes in salted water until the rice is cooked. Remove the string after cooking and serve with the herbs and lemon.
Boiled and frozen
Steam the live mussels in their shells for 15-20 minutes. The shells open and the meat can easily be removed. Rinse the meat, put it into bags and freeze.
Mussel meat – must be whole, grey or pale orange in colour.
Before cooking frozen mussel meat, defrost the briquettes by transferring them to the refrigerator. Defrosting is best done outdoors at room temperature. Remove any impurities. Rinse in cold water until all sand is completely removed from the mussels. Then use the mussels for their intended purpose.
Pour the boiled mussels into a little grape vinegar or apple cider vinegar, add the pepper and bay leaf and allow to infuse. Bring the marinade to the boil. This will make a lovely dish.
To give extra flavour and aroma, you can add some vegetables to the marinating process – carrots and onions, as well as spices and spices to taste.
Put in the marinade in the refrigerator for storage.
Unlike frozen clams, marinated clams are fully ready to eat. Marinated mussels are used to create seafood salads, pizzas, risotto, pilaff, rolls, paella and other appetising dishes.
Natural mussels are the tastiest. Cleaned and washed mussels are steamed. When exposed to the steam, the flaps open, the mussel meat is separated and placed in sterilised jars. The mussels are in their own juice and keep for a long time.
A delicatessen snack is a canned snack – smoked mussels in oil. Canned or boiled-frozen mussels are used without further processing.
Cold dishes: salads and snacks
Mussel salad with vegetables. Remove the mussel meat and blanch in boiling water. Stir the blanched meat into the tomato slices, add the onion, parsley and olives. Season with lemon juice and spices to taste.
An appetizer of mussels and bacon. Fry the bacon slices and fry the boiled mussels. Slices of white bread fried in garlic butter. Place fried mussels and bacon on toasted bread, garnish with parsley greens.
The marinated mushrooms go perfectly with the mussels in the salad. You will have a lovely salad. Dress with lemon juice. Cut the olives into rings and mix into the salad, or simply place on top for decoration.
Mussels baked in shells with cheese and garlic make a lovely Mediterranean-style appetizer. Goes well with white wine.
Boiled meat, minced through a meat grinder and mixed with fried onions, salt and crushed pepper, is used to fill patties, dumplings and pelmeni.
Grind the cooked mussel meat through a meat grinder, season with salt to taste, mix with the mashed potatoes and bake.
You can also roast the mussels in their shells. Rinse the mussels, separate the meat from the shells and then return each mussel to its shell. Place the shells with the mussels in the baking dish. Chop the garlic and mix with the oil, seasoning and squeezed lemon juice. Cover each mussel with the sauce. Sauce options: melted cheese sauce, garlic-lemon sauce, sour cream-saffron sauce, flying fish roe sauce. Put the mussel roasting dish in the oven preheated to 230°C (446°F) . Bake for 7 minutes.
1. Hot smoking.
Clams do not require a long and complicated salting process. An unusual flavour can be added by pickling. The hot-smoking process is best carried out in a ready-made smokehouse appliance.
2. Smoking on the grill.
All mussels should have closed shells. Rinse the mussels well under cold water. Take a large sheet of foil to fit all the mussels and make small holes in the foil. This way the smoke will pass through it. Place the wrapped shells on the grill grate and cook for 10-30 minutes with the lid closed. As soon as the shells open, the mussels are ready.
Serve the smoked mussels with wine sauce and herbs.
3. Smoking in a pan.
This process will require pink salt and dried leaves of a tree that give off a thick smoke and smoke: rosemary, oak leaves, mandarin peels, dried bay leaves, walnut.
Salt the mussel meat and leave for 10-15 minutes. Thread them on skewers a little apart. Place the skewers in a pan over the prepared leaves. Turn on a low heat so that the essential oil on the leaves starts to release. After 20 minutes the mussels are fully cooked.
4. Cold smoking.
The process is carried out in a special smokehouse. It’s not a quick process. You string the mussels on skewers and put them into the drying unit for one hour, then smoke them for 4 hours and hang them out for 12 hours. The product acquires its flavour not during smoking but afterwards.
How to Store Correctly?
Mussels are not a product with a long shelf life. The main nuance is the type in which the seafood is purchased. They are sold fresh, frozen, in shells or without them, and in special vacuum packs. Each option has its own shelf life.
Mussels can only be stored in two ways:
- In the refrigerator;
- in the freezer compartment.
Store live clams at a maximum temperature of +7°C (44.6°F). After 2 to 3 days, the clams will have died. Eat them within this time. But preferably on the day of purchase.
- Mussels that have been moved to the refrigerator shelf from the freezer to defrost – can be stored there for no more than 2 to 3 days.
- Ice will help to prolong the freshness of the seafood for 1 to 2 days. Place the clams on an icy surface and then cover with more ice cubes on top.
- Clams that are kept refrigerated should be constantly inspected. If one dies, discard it immediately – otherwise all the seafood could soon go bad.
- Live clams can be stored in cold water for no more than a day. As long as they are alive, they should be cooked.
Live mussels can be kept in the freezer by separating the meat from the shells. Or put the meat into a plastic container with the right amount of water, seal it and freeze it.
Store the mussels in the freezer for 2 months.
The storage temperature affects their shelf life:
- At -12°C (10.4°F) -10°C (14°F), the mussels will have a shelf life of 2 weeks;
- -18°C (-0.4°F) and below – 3 weeks;
- at -18°C (-0.4°F) and below without shells – 1 to 2 months.
Fresh clams extracted from shellfish – should be consumed immediately after purchase.
Frozen food can be stored for as long as specified by the manufacturer. And be sure to keep them in a sealed container.
The mussels must not be re-frozen.
Mussels in a marinade
When buying mussels in marinade, look at the date of manufacture and the expiry date of the product. Choose a later date of manufacture – to keep the seafood longer.
After opening the jar – the shelf life of the marinated mussels is 2 days. To keep them fresh during this time, pour a little oil into the jar so that the mussels are completely covered.
Salads containing mussels, which are perishable, do not keep for long. They can be kept for up to one day. After this time, they must not be consumed.
The cooked frozen shellfish can be stored for a long time without losing their nutritional value or flavour.
If preparing for freezing on your own – add spices to the salt water while boiling so that the clams are completely ready to eat. Once cooled, freeze them and store for 3 months.
Thaw the boiled mussels gradually. They can then be consumed immediately.
Before freezing – wipe the mussels dry with a paper towel to prevent ice from forming (it will spoil the taste of the product).
A simple and quick dish. You can make it with wholemeal or gluten-free pasta. The tangy flavour of the unusual sauce adds flavour to the pasta.
Healthy sea protein, beans, heaps of fresh vegetables and herbs, and spices. This salad is quite a complete lunch or dinner. If you don’t like mussels, you’ll love the idea of the sauce. It’s thick and flavourful.
A fabulous Italian dish. This dish owes its indescribable flavour to the sauce, which is in perfect harmony with the sea shellfish. The tomatoes combine with the garlic, onions and saffron to create a mind-blowing aroma. Serve the dish with freshly grilled baguette slices.
A uniquely succulent appetiser. Serve ceviche with a glass of white wine for dinner and it’s popular for romantic gatherings, as mussels are considered an aphrodisiac. For seafood to marinate well – simmer in lime and lemon juice for at least 10-15 minutes. Marinated mussels are traditionally served with vegetable salsa.
The marinated mushrooms go perfectly with the mussels. You will have a lovely salad. Dress with lemon juice. Cut the olives into rings and mix into the salad, or simply place on top for decoration.
Easy to prepare, tasty and low in calories. Roasted mussels in garlic butter is a dish with an exotic flavour. This quick dish is a great option for unexpected guests, or when you just want to make something tasty to eat in a hurry.
A beautiful and unusual serving of this mussel dish will grace any festive table and surprise your guests. Serve the mussels in their shell halves. Cover the top liberally with cheese. Bake this dish in the oven.
Delicious fried mussels. Traditional Indian spices give the fried mussels a pleasing flavour. A wonderful combination of a crispy fried appearance with their naturally smooth texture. An interesting snack option.
Use peeled mussels fresh or frozen. The dish is tender, hearty and very tasty. The sour cream sauce gives the mussels a creamy taste with a slight garlic flavour.
Fried green mussels with white wine, cheese and spinach. A very beautiful, colourful and nutritious dish. The beautiful combination of ingredients complement each other and create an enchanting flavour extravaganza. Soft, delicate mussel flavours with a creamy, cheesy hint.
New Zealand mussels with beautiful green shells are very attractive. This dish will feature 5 types of mussel variations with different fillings. These are Buffalo mussels, garlic mussels, pesto mussels, Italian mussels and Diablo mussels. An original dish.
Spicy, fragrant and tasty mussels, a real gastronomic delight. It takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. The simple and light flavour of the curry is softened by the coconut milk. Perfectly combined with the rich flavour of the sea from the clams. Use aromatic spices in this dish to create a delicate curry.
A sauce based on a mixture of three sauces – chilli garlic sauce, sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce. The perfect marinade for the mussels. The dish is succulent and tender with a sweet flavour.
A delicious, flavourful, hearty and absolutely delightful soup. Filled with amazing ingredients – lemongrass, ginger, chilli pepper, fish sauce and coconut milk. The perfect dish for a family dinner.
Crispy tahongs are the best seafood snack. These deep-fried mussels are soaked in flour and cornstarch. Deep-fried until golden and crispy. They will become your favourite dish.
16. Mussel pies
Mussel meat covered in a soft, velvety curry-flavoured cream and crispy pastry. Use a puff pastry. The pie comes out crispy, juicy and nutritious.
Casserole with smoked tinned mussels. Mix these mussels with cheese and cauliflower, add spices, bake in the oven and you have a healthy, light dish.
18. Smoked mussels
Combine with garlic butter, fragrant apple cider and fresh salsa. Simply add toasted bread and white wine. Perfect as an appetizer or snack for friendly gatherings.