Ever wondered how to clean and debeard a mussel? If you enjoy mussels then knowing how to prepare your mussels is critical to enjoying these wonderful little mollucs. And enjoy them I do! This short post is to help you improve your cookery techniques and learn how to prepare your mussels. Once you know how to do this you can try any of my mussel recipes. I recommend you try first my Mussels with Wine, Garlic, Parsley and Cream, or Moules Mariniere as the French say! Yum!!
Preparing mussels is simple. It just takes 3 easy steps. Cleaning, debearding, and getting rid of the dead ones.
1. Clean the mussels in plenty of cold water
This is simply running all of the mussels under a cold water tap. Nothing scientific here and I do this whilst, at the same time, completing the second and third step.
2. Debeard the mussels
Whilst washing each mussel check if each one has a beard? This is basically a bit of thread that the mussel has produced to help it attached to rocks. It actually looks like a bit of brown seaweed…
You can scrub this off with a brush but I tend to just pull them off. Just be a little careful that you don’t pull half the mussel out too. If you do then discard the mussel. Once properly debearded the mussel should be clean like this:
3. Discard any dead mussels
Dead mussels are likely to make you ill. Now, I don’t say this scare you or deter you from eating mussels. I can say with my hand on my heart that I have never been ill over mussels. You just need to discard any dead ones. The good news is they are easy to find.
The simple test is if any of the mussels are open when you clean then just push the shell closed. If the shell stays closed or closes on its own accord, then the mussel is alive and can be used. If the shell opens again when you release the grip then it is probably dead and should be thrown away. See the pictures below:
Now, to put this into context, out of the 2 kg mussels I prepared the last time I cooked with mussels I found only this one in this condition. There really shouldn’t be that many. However, if you are ever in doubt. Just throw the unsure mussel away.
OK, my budding cooks. That is basically how you prepare a mussel for cooking. But before I go I wanted to share one other point you should always consider with mussels. I then have a couple of recommendations for you.
Firstly, following the preparation guidelines above should mean all of your mussels are safe to eat and will taste wonderful. Just note though, if, when you start eating your mussels, you find any that are still closed, this means they were probably dead when they went into the pot. You should discard these and not try to force them open and eat.
In terms of recommendation, firstly, and for my UK followers, if interested I get me mussels delivered fresh from Cornwall. I use an online fishmonger called The Cornish Fishmonger and I highly recommend using them if you are looking for fresh seafood. They will deliver within 48 hours.
Finally, just a great recipe. If you are new to mussels and want a simple recipe to start with then do try my Mussels with Wine, Garlic, Parsley and Cream recipe. It is so easy to make. Serve with crusty bread and your guests will be in awe of you forever!!
Take care all and thanks for reading. Until next time…Steve.