Name one dish that is quite inexpensive, easy to prepare, and fancy enough for almost every occasion. If you thought of mussels, then we are on the same page. This tasty seafood is a family favorite in many parts of North America, including Canada, and it is for a good reason.
Whether you want to roast, steam, or grill your mussels, it pays to know how to do it right. You don’t want to spoil your meal by making a simple mistake that you could have avoided. It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or pro chef; it only takes confidence and effort to prepare tasty mussels.
Avoid these common mistakes, and you will make a pot of delicious mussels that will rival the taste of mussels that you enjoy eating at your favorite mussels restaurant.
Clean Them Up
Whether you buy them from your trusted fishmonger or any other source, make sure that you give them a quick clean before cooking them. Don’t trust your vendor even if they tell you that the mussels are already cleaned.
Be sure to scrub them with a scrubber or stiff brush under cold running water. After that, place them in a large pot or bowl and cover them with cold water. Add approximately 2/3 cup of sea salt water then mix the water and clams thoroughly with your hands to distribute the sea salt.
Allow the mussels to sit for about one hour before you drain the water. Rinse them well to get rid of any loose dirt and grit and fill your pot or bowl with another batch of fresh water. Soak them for another 20 minutes and rinse them again. This should be enough to get rid of any sand, dirt, and grit.
Use Your Widest Pot or Kettle
Are you steaming your mussels? Well, you need to choose your widest pot or kettle to allow the cooking liquid and steam to reach your mussels quite easily. You should also consider shaking your pot or kettle every one or two minutes to redistribute the layers. Don’t stir them!
For instance, if you are cooking up to two pounds of mussels, consider using an 11-inch wide pot or kettle with a glass lid that allows you to see through. This way, your mussels have plenty of space, and you can easily know when they open.
Steaming is probably the easiest mussel cooking method that is used in homes. If you prefer grilling your mussels either put them in a wide, shallow pan the place it on top of your grill or scatter them across the surface of your grill.
Simmer, Don’t Boil
One of the most common mistakes that a lot of people commit when preparing mussels is that they cook them in boiling liquid. Since the most common method of preparing mussels is steaming, you need to make sure that the liquid in your pot doesn’t boil but rather simmers.
You can easily achieve a simmer by first placing your pot/kettle on a stove on medium-high heat. Once you add the liquid to the pot, get it to boil. The moment it starts to boil, lower your heat to medium or low, which is just enough to keep your liquid hot.
Use Aromatics and Herbs to Make Them Tasty
Another good tip to remember while preparing mussels is to use various herbs and aromatics to make them taste and smell better. Some of the aromatics that you can use include leeks, garlic, shallots, and some thyme.
Feel free to experiment with other aromatics and herbs as well. Some people even prefer adding lemon and some ginger to their mussels while others prefer adding white onions and fennel to enhance the smell.