How to Prep Mussels:
These Mediterranean mussels arrive live with the “beards” still on so they will stay fresh longer. Just prior to cooking the mussels these beards should be pulled off. Do not do this very far in advance.
Sort mussels prior to cooking, removing any with shells that are broken or not closed tight. Test any open shelled mussels for signs of life by briefly rinsing them in cold tap water. They should begin to close. If they don’t, try pinching the shells closed. If they remain that way after you let go, the mussel is still alive and can be safely eaten. If not, discard them along with all broken-shelled mussels.
Most recipes call for scrubbing mussels with a wire brush before cooking, but net farmed mussels are often so clean that instead only a quick rinse is necessary.
Soaking live mussels in flour-water before cooking can make them taste and look even better. Read How to Prep Live Mussels for more info.
Mussel Cooking Tips:
Mussels are often steamed until they open. Mediterranean mussels can actually open before they’re fully cooked. This makes them a great choice for dishes where you want to first steam the mussels open, then continue to cook them using other methods. However, if you simply want to steam them until they’re done, continue to cook them until their meat starts to visibly contract.
Mussel meat can be breaded & deep fried, broiled, sautéed, baked, braised, stir-fried or smoked. Because of the quality of their meat, Mediterranean mussels stand up to multi-stage cooking particularly well and can even be steamed open, then have their meat marinated, seared and then braised…all without becoming tough!
Mediterranean mussels’ wide shells make them an excellent choice for mussels baked or broiled on the half-shell, as there’s extra room around the meat for bread crumbs, herbs and other toppings.
Mussels pair superbly well with white wine, garlic, tomatoes and herbs. A common side dish with mussels in Europe is French fries (perhaps with a spicy aioli).
How to Steam Mussels
Mussels That Don’t Open:
It doesn’t happen often, but Mediterranean mussels can actually get glued shut while cooking (this is particularly likely to happen when they’re submerged in liquids) due to a substance on their shells that resists barnacle growth.
If the other mussels in the pot have opened and their meat is cooked, it’s safe to assume closed mussels are cooked as well. Pry them open with tongs, a knife, or fork and enjoy!