Tips for Preparing Mussels

Earlier this week I shared Chef Mark Brown’s recipe for Steamed Mussels in Coconut Milk (from the Sustainable Seafood class at Relish Cooking Studio). Today, instead of sharing the next recipe in the series, I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips with you that I learned at the class. These tips will help to ensure your safety when enjoying mussels.

Mussels are quickly becoming a dinner-time favourite in our home. Seafood and fish are among my favourite foods, and, as Chef Mark Brown pointed out in the class, mussels are one of the least expensive seafoods to buy at the moment. On top of that, they are very versatile and there are many ways to enjoy mussels with your dinner. Such as…

So, how do you recognize whether a mussel is safe to eat? You evaluate them at each step of the process!

Before cooking

  • Scrub and de-beard each of the mussels (of they will already be de-bearded) to remove sand.
  • Discard any mussels that have broken shells.
  • Discard any mussels whose shells are opened (they are already dead and not safe to eat).

During and after cooking

  • Sort through the cooked mussels and discard any that did not open during the cooking process.
  • Warn your guests not to eat any mussels whose shells did not open during cooking and advise they discard the mussel.
  • When in doubt, it’s best to discard the mussel rather than risk making yourself sick!

Steamed Mussels in Coconut Milk from Relish Cooking Studio

As promised, This week (and probably next week), I’ll be sharing recipes with you from a class that I attended at Relish Cooking Studio in Waterloo.   I attended their Sustainable Seafood class back in March, only one week after attending the Tour of Thailand class. Why did I wait so long to tell you about this class? Mostly, I wanted to change up the blog posts for a bit. We learn to prepare so many dishes in each of the classes, I wanted a few weeks to post my own recipes before diving back into a collection. However, I did briefly write about this class earlier when writing about how to choose and buy a fish.

While I enjoyed both of the classes very much, this one has had a bit more influence on the food I cook at home. The ingredients for Thai food are further away at a specialty grocery store, whereas I can get most of the ingredients for these recipes closer to home.

Today’s recipe for steamed mussels was probably my favourite one from the bunch. Maybe this is because I was very hungry when I arrived. I think it’s because it was so different from my usual way of enjoying mussels (I’ve enjoyed them with a tomato and wine broth or with a black bean sauce prior to the class). Also, the mussels were cooked to perfection. They were tender and flavourful. Not rubbery in the slightest. I’m working on not over-cooking mussels when preparing them at home.

What is your favourite way to enjoy mussels? I think this is mine!

Steamed Mussels in Coconut Milk

Recipe by (and posted with permission from) Chef Mark Brown, demonstration at Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 tablespoon coriander – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sliced red chili – approximate cost $0.15
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.08
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk – approximate cost $4.00
  • 3 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded – approximate cost $12.00
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup water

Method

  1. Pour the oil into a large pot and bring to medium-high heat.
  2. Toss in the onion slices and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned.
  3. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
  4. Add the coriander, kaffir lime leaves, and chili, and again cook for 1 minute while stirring often.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and 1 cup of water.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Add the mussels and salt.
  8. Stir until mussels are well coated with the sauce.
  9. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to medium.
  10. Cook for about 7 minutes (or until the mussels have opened).
  11. Discard any mussels that do not open (these are not safe to eat).
  12. Remove the pot from heat and add the lemon juice and cilantro.
  13. Spoon the mussels and sauce into bowls.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $4.58 per serving).

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