Shellfish Recipes

Mussels (Mytilus edulis) Protein-11.90%, Fat-2.24%, Water-80.58%

Blue mussels

Blue mussels.

The shell of the mussel is elongated and asymmetrical compared with clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval. The most popular is the Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis), also known as the common mussel. The shell is smooth, and blue-black in color; young mussels are sometimes yellowish-brown with blue-black bands. The mussel reaches marketable size after about three years’ growth, when it is two inches or more in length.

Mussels can be smoked, boiled, steamed, roasted, barbecued or fried in butter or vegetable oil. As with all shellfish, mussels should be checked to ensure they are still alive just before they are cooked; enzymes quickly break down the meat and make them unpalatable. Mussel shells usually open when cooked, revealing the cooked soft parts. Live mussels, when in the air, will shut tightly when disturbed. Open, unresponsive mussels are dead, and must be discarded. Most mussels are farmed and are less likely to have sand and grit in them, compared to wild mussels. If you gather your own or buy wild mussels, you need to get the grit out - they need to be soaked in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes, and then drained. For both types, scrub the mussels under cold, running water and remove the beards (the bristly material sticking out from one side) by pulling down toward the hinge of the shell and outward. If the mussel shell is slightly open, tap it with a knife to see if it closes. If it does not close, discard it- the mussel is dead.

Cooking Mussels

Wash and steam mussels in a little water in a covered kettle for about 5 minutes. Cool the mussels quickly by water spray to prevent toughening of the meat. The classic method for cooking mussels is steaming them. Mussels contain a small amount of liquid/moisture, so steaming doesn’t require the addition of any extra liquid. But typically a small amount of liquid (water, stock, wine, beer) can be added to a hot pan before adding your mussels. Cover tightly with a lid and steam for 5 minutes. The mussels should open between 5 and 7 minutes. Once open, they’re cooked and ready to eat. Mussels that don’t open should be discarded - they’re dead. The meats are removed from the now open shells, usually by hand, and the beard or byssus pulled out. Wash the meats in clean fresh water, but do not leave them soaking in water or they will lose flavour and appear less attractive.

Smoking Mussels

Steam the mussels until they open.
Brine for 3-5 minutes in 50º brine. (Add 1.26 lbs of salt to 1 gallon of water. This makes 50 degrees brine).
Drain and pat dry. Brush or dip shrimp in oil and spread on wire screens. Preheat smokehouse to 100° F (38° C) and dry the mussels without smoke for 25 minutes.
Increase temperature to 180° F (82° C) and apply a heavy smoke for 30 minutes.

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