Mussels, a true gift from the sea. If you live on the coast, you can of course gather your own. If you aren’t blessed with easy access to the sea, you are still in luck. In recent years, commercially farmed mussels are readily available in most markets.
For those of you living in California, who may wish to gather your own, be aware that there are numerous myths about when it is safe to gather the Pacific Coast Sea Mussel. Forget the old wives tale about gathering them in months with or without R’s. I figure mussels can’t read, and I forget whether it’s the months with the R or the months without. If you plan on harvesting your own mussels CALL THE SHELLFISH QUARENTINE HOTLINE AT
1-800 553-4133. It will tell you if the quarantine is on or off.
Another myth: Mussels gathered in the off season won’t make you sick. They will make you DEAD! But, if you gather in the proper season they are safe and delectable.
Cleaning and de-bearding: When you get our mussels home, put them in the sink. If any are open tap them sharply and if they don’t close, discard them because they are most likely already dead. Actually, if you steam them, your cat would probably be pleased. Scrub the remaining mussel under cold running water. Now, try to de-beard them. This is sometimes easier said than done. Hold the mussel in one hand and with a small paring knife in the other use the blade of the knife and your thumb and try to pull off the beard. Don’t fret if it doesn’t come off. It won’t hurt. It’s mostly for esthetic reasons.
Now that said, let’s get cooking. Here are some excellent mussel recipes.
Mussles in White Wine
Mussels with Linguine
Mussels Garam Masala
Layla's Stuffed Mussels