Mediterranean Mussels

Mytilus galloprovincialis
(a.k.a. blue mussel, black mussel, bay mussel)

Source: Farmed, established in Puget Sound
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Spawn: Winter
Ecology/Sustainability: Eco-Best (Environmental Defense Fund)

Larger and meatier than its Atlantic Blue Mussel cousin. The shell also tends to be a little darker in color.

Greenshell Mussels

Perna canaliculus
(a.k.a. green-lipped mussels)

Source: Farmed in New Zealand
Season: Available frozen year-round.
Ecology/Sustainability: Eco-Best (Environmental Defense Fund)

Typically the largest sized mussels seen in stores. The name itself is trademarked by industry to differentiate from wild Thai green mussel which is smaller. I've found these mussels to be top quality, very clean and reliable. It is great to have these in area where fresh mussels are hard to find. The color of the shell makes this one attractive.

More Info from Grower

Mussels in Guinness

The following is a popular pub appetizer.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. of fresh mussels
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. of fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tsp. of fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 cup of Guinness
  • 1 cup of half-and-half
  • 4 tbsp. of unsalted butter
  • Lemon wedges (for serving)
  • French bread (for serving)
Instructions:
  1. Purge, clean and debeard the mussels.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large stockpot over high heat.
  3. Cook until the mussels open (about 8 minutes)
  4. Discard any unopened mussels.
  5. Shuck the mussels and save a few of the best shells for decoration. Do not let the mussels dry out.
  6. Distribute the liquid and mussels between 4 shallow bowls. Place a few the saved shells for decoration.
  7. Garnish with some parsley and serve with plenty of French bread and a wedge a lemon.

This recipe is an adaptation from: Margaret Johnson's The Irish Pub Cookbook.

Safe Mussel Handling

As is with all mollusks, good handling practices are critical to ensure food safety. Just follow a few simple rules:

  1. When you purchase live mussels, their shells should be tightly closed.
  2. They should not have a foul odor.
  3. Live mussels need to breathe. Do not store them in plastic bags.
  4. Ideally, you should prepare live mussels within 24 hours of purchase.
  5. Live mussels should be refrigerated in an open container covered with a damp cloth or paper towel.
  6. Persons with shellfish allergies should not consume mussels.

How to Purge Mussels

If you’re like most people, you don’t enjoy the feeling of sand and grit on your teeth. This problem is easily remedied by purging your mussels prior to cooking time. Even though most commercially available mussels have been pre-purged, I find that doing this yourself makes a difference.

  1. Briefly rinse your mussels with cold water.
  2. Place the mussels in a large bowl with cold water.
  3. Dissolve about 1/3 cup of sea salt per gallon of water in the bowl.
  4. Stir in a small amount of cornmeal.
  5. Leave the setup in a cold place for about two hours.
  6. Drain the mussels and rinse in cold water.
At this point you’re set to clean, de-beard and cook the mussels.

Why Eat Mussels?

For some odd reason, when people think of seafood or shellfish, they frequently ignore mussels. The primary objective of this blog is to educate people about this decadent treat. Here is a brief summary of why you should eat mussels:

Flavor:
If you enjoy seafood, mussels should be on your menu! Mussels offer a distinctive taste and texture for you to enjoy. There exists an absolute plethora of dishes that you can prepare in your own home kitchen. Mussel recipes are a valuable addition to your cookbook.

Preparation:
Many mussel dishes take no more than 30 minutes to prepare. On this site you will find a plentiful assortment of recipes for everything from appetizers to soups to main dishes.

Nutrition:
Mussels are an extra-lean meat, high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids (contribute to a heart healthy diet) – more than any other shellfish! This food is low in fat and cholesterol free.

History:
Evidence shows that humans around the globe have been using mussels for thousands of years. There exists a multitude of cultural dishes to be explored.

Environment:
For more than a hundred years, mussels have been successfully and profitably aqua farmed around the world. These farms stand as a model example of the industry. Farmed mussels are consistently at the top of the sustainable seafood rankings. OceansAlive rates Blue Mussels as an ‘Eco Best’.

Value:
The ratio of meat to shell weight is better than any other mollusk option.