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Many people are put off buying and cooking mussels at home by a fear of eating a "bad" one. Certainly, there is a mysticism and air of complication surrounding their purchase and preparation, but there really is very little to fear about these delicious bivalves.

Mussels can be naturally harvested, or farmed on long ropes dangled from rafts, or grown on posts driven into the seabed. In every respect, they are a truly organic and nutritious food.

The mussel is a very simple creature: it lives in the sea, attached to whatever it's growing on by tough bear-like tendrils. It sits there all day, sucking in and squirting out sea water, sifting out food and nutrients.

Trouble is, along with all the good stuff that gets sucked into your basic mussel, can come some unwanted stuff as well. Unfortunately, it is the mussel's simple filter feeding process that can give rise to stories of people writhing around in agony losing half their body weight in a day.

But that needn't be the case: here are a few very simple rules for you to follow when buying, preparing and cooking mussels:

  1. Buying and Preparing MusselsChoose your mussels with care, buying them only from reputable supermarkets and fishmongers.
  2. Raw mussels are always sold live: they should be shiny, mostly unbroken and closed, and generally smell of nothing other than the sea.
  3. Get them home straight away and cover them with plenty of cold fresh water (mussels don't like tap water, so they shut up and wait for the real tide to come in!).
  4. Scrub them well and remove any barnacles and the tough fibrous 'beard'. Throw away any with broken shells.
  5. Raw mussels that refuse to close when rapped on the side of the sink are dead: throw them away.
  6. Mussels that remain closed having just been through the cooking process were dead before you bought them and should also be chucked out.

Finally, cook mussels for the briefest time - two to three minutes at most, or until they just open. That way, they'll be juicy, sweet and tender.

That's it.

Bon Apetit!
Chef Jim Fisher

Related recipe:

Moules Marinières

This article comes from Chef Jim Fisher who now runs cooking holidays in the Dordogne.

If you would like to know more about Jim and how he gained his love of cooking why not have a look at his biography page <click here>

To find out more about the cooking holidays in France at Jim's cooking school in the Dordogne you will need to visit his web site <click here>




Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com