Table of Contents
Exploring The Truth On How To Cook Fresh Mussels From The Beach
There is nothing quite like a bed of mussels cooked to perfection on a chilly fall afternoon. Unfortunately, not many people are aware that they are incredibly easy and quick to cook in your home kitchen. There are, however, a few hazards associated with collecting the fresh mussels, preparing them for use, and cooking them that you must first be aware of before you can partake in their deliciousness. As usual, we’ve got you covered, as this post will be dedicated to helping you be prepared to conquer all the common hazards as well as equip you with tips and best practices. This post will explore the top tips to properly collect fresh mussels, how to clean and prepare fresh mussels then, of course, how to cook fresh mussels from the beach to ensure you get to enjoy them at their most succulent peak. The best part of it all is that the whole process is pretty easy. Don’t believe me? Read on to see for yourself.
Top Tips To Properly Collect Fresh Mussels
There is no better way of ensuring the mussels you are using are fresh than by heading down to the beach and collecting them yourself. There are a few safety tips, however, that you will need to keep in mind when deciding whether to take the plunge into the ocean or to simply head down to your local grocery store. The top tips to remember are:
- Ensure the water from which you are collecting the mussels is clean and safe to access. You want to be sure that there are no sewage pipe outlets or other hazards nearby that could be contaminating the water. Try to find an area close to a busy, working harbor, and check with your local tourist authorities to ensure mussels caught there are safe for consumption.
- Study the patterns and timing of the tides in the area. Mussels tend to hang out in groups where the tides are lower. This is also a pro tip for safety reasons as attempting to collect mussels in a high tide area could be dangerous.
- Proper nonslip shoes are essential. Many of the rocks around these areas may be covered in seaweed making them incredibly slippery.
- Resist the urge to smash the mussels you find them. Collecting mussels for cooking requires a gentle touch as they may die on impact making them inedible. Most times can be prised from the rocks using your hands.
- Once you catch the mussels you need you can transport them home in an open bucket, loosely wrapped thick cloth, and soaked in seawater. If you aren’t planning on using them immediately, store them in the refrigerator in the same cloth. They should be able to survive like this for a couple of days but be sure to utilize them as soon as possible.
How To Clean And Prepare Fresh Mussels
It’s now time to prep our mussels. It is important to note that if you had opted to purchase your mussels from the grocery store or local fishmonger, the first couple of steps may already be done for you. These steps are: removing the beard, barnacles, and other potential attachments that you don’t want to eat. Luckily, there are a few best practices that can make this task far easier while ensuring that the mussels are kept in pristine condition while prepping. So, let’s dive into what these pesky attachments are and how to remove them.
When you first pick up a mussel you will see a group of fibers protruding from its side. This is referred to as the mussel’s beard. The beard is inedible and should be carefully removed so as not to harm the mussel in the process. To do so, position the mussel snug in the center of your palm then close your fingers around it to hold it in place. Firmly tug the bread towards the hinged narrow section of the mussel using your free hand to free it from the shell.
Next, you want to remove any barnacles (smaller shell particles) and other impurities, that may have become attached to the mussel before cooking. To do this, add your mussels into a colander then submerge your colander in a tub of clean water (this will aid in lifting the mussels out of the water when you are finished). Vigorously brush each mussel with a wire brush. If after doing this, you are left with any stubborn bits, simply slip on some cut-resistant gloves and scrape them off using a short yet sturdy knife. Pro-tip, if you are without cut-resistant gloves, simply fold a thick kitchen towel to the size of your hand and rest it in your palm under the mussel before scraping.
Remember to work quickly when washing them as exposing the mussels to freshwater for long periods before cooking will kill them. Your mussels should remain alive up to cooking so be sure to not have them submerged in your freshwater for longer than fifteen minutes.
How To Cook Fresh Mussels From The Beach
Like most shellfish, fresh mussels can be cooked in a variety of ways. The simplest method to achieve a quick yet tasty serving of mussels, however, is to steam them. Mussels can generally be steamed and ready in a few minutes with little ingredients to prep. About 20 steamed mussels would make a delicious starter for two or entre for one, and we’re about to prepare it together in under twenty minutes.
Things You’ll Need:
- Around 20 live, cleaned mussels
- 1 cup White Wine
- About a cup of water (you only need enough liquid to cover the base of your pot)
- 1 Shallot, peeled and chopped
- 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
- Salt and Pepper
How to Cook Them:
When you are ready to begin cooking your mussels, take a minute to examine each one to be sure the shells are still closed. If you find any that are open gently tap them on a hard surface to close. They should close without force, if they don’t react it means you’ve lost a mussel and it must be discarded. Only mussels that remain alive up to the point of cooking are safe to eat.
Set your mussels aside and add your ingredients into your pot of choice. Remember this is a steaming method, so the mussels will be cooked by the steam and not the liquid. So, only add enough liquid to cover the base of your pot up to about a half of an inch up from the base. Lightly season and allow to come to a rapid boil on high heat.
Once boiling, add in your mussels and cover the pot. Give the pot a gentle shake to evenly distribute the steam through the mussels then cook like this for about three minutes. When cooked, the shells of the mussels will be opened. Discard any mussels that do not open after three fill minutes of cooking, this generally means the mussels had been dead before cooking.
Transfer the remaining mussels onto your serving plate using a slotted spoon. Then top with some of your reduced stock then garnish with a sprig of parsley or a wedge of lime. To eat, simply pull the shell apart and ensure the delicious mussel inside.
See, it wasn’t that hard, and the post only explored the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cooking delicious fresh mussels. There are a variety of equally easy and tasty ways they can be cooked by utilizing a smoker, your oven, or even a good old fashion beach fire pit. The sky is the limit with these bad boys, so feel free to let your creativity run wild.