One of my favorite foods, as of recent, has been mussels. While mussels are one of the easiest foods to cook, there is some essential preparation information that individuals must know before purchasing the mollusks. First of all, upon purchasing your mussels, make sure to immediately unwrap them at home so they can breathe. Why? Because simply put, they are still alive. The mussels should be tightly closed, as an indication that they are still alive, as well as and stored in a cool area where they can breathe. Discard any mussel that is chipped, broken, or damaged in any way, as well as any mussels that are open (this indicates that they are no longer alive… serving dead mussels can be dangerous to the consumer). If you have time, soak your mussels in fresh water for about 20 minutes. Why? As mussels breathe, they actually filter water and expel salt. After about 20 minutes, the mussels will have actually filtered out salt and sand that had previously been stored in their shells. Ergo, your cooked mussels will actually taste less “of the sea” if you have the time to allow their to filter more salt and sand.
Most mussels have what is commonly called a "beard," (aka- byssal threads… plethora of fibers that emerge from the mussel’s shell). Mussels actually use the beard to adhere to barnacles, rocks, etc. However, it is absolutely essential to remove the beard before serving to clients/in your home. To remove the beard, hold the mussel in one hand grasp the beard with the other… sharply yank the beard out, towards the hinge end of the mussel. If you were to pull the beard out towards the opening end of the mussel, you risk the chance of tearing the mollusk (and killing it). After removing the beard, discard (import not to serve the beard!)
In order to remove the mussels from the soaking water, use your hands to transfer the mussels into a clean bowl (if you were to dump the mussels into a strainer, the sand and salt that had been expelled (and is now settled at the bottom of the bowl) would simply be poured atop of the now clean mussels. Use a firm brush (or a few sturdy paper towels) to brush off any additional sand, barnacles, or other oceanic attachments. Rinse the mussels under cool tap water, and set aside. Dry with a towel before cooking. This lengthy process will ensure that the consumer will enjoy a more fresh mussel experience.
It’s fun to learn… right? Love y’all! ♥