Don’t be intimidated if you’re not a regular mussels eater.
If you’re looking to add lean seafood to your diet (it’s a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids) mussels are an affordable and tasty way to go. Plus, they’re much easier to cook than you might think. Entertaining company? A mussels appetizer is super impressive.
But choosing fresh mussels at the grocery store or fish market can be intimidating if you’ve never had to buy mussels before. Here are four simple rules from Chef Jason Fullilove to buy fresh mussels that even the most discerning palates would love:
Choose farmed mussels instead of wild mussels. These mussels face fewer predators, so they don’t focus their energy on growing a bigger, stronger shell. Instead, they tend to have a meatier interior. This means you’ll get more meat per dollar!
Check for a fresh smell. Like with most seafood, you are better off buying mussels with the least “fishy” smell. That odor is a sign that the mussel is rotting inside, so give it a sniff and look for fresh mussels with a more neutral, salty sea aroma. (Here are tips for how to buy the best seafood.)
Ask about the mussels’ source. Find out where the mussels came from and when they were harvested. Mussels are best within three to five days of leaving the water, so use this information to know how fresh the mussels are and how quickly you need to eat them.
Don’t buy opened mussels. If the shell is open, the meat inside is, um, dead. To ensure your mussels are fresh, buy only closed, firm mussels.
These mussels will need to be cleaned before eating, and then they can be prepared in a variety of ways. Common preparations include streaming, grilling, boiling, smoking, or frying in butter. In Mediterranean cooking, it’s common to steam fresh mussels with white wine and herbs.
Jason Fullilove is the executive chef/owner of Barbara Jean in Los Angeles, a modern take on globally inspired soul food with a focus on nutrition.
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Mussels are very healthy for you, they're
high in vitamin A, they're high in omega 3
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fatty acids, they're very high
in really good minerality.
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Similar to oysters, but
they're a lot cheaper.
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So you can get the same benefits
you would from eating an oyster,
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with eating mussels.
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When I buy my mussels,
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I like to buy them from places like
Carlsbad or Prince Edward Island.
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They do a really nice
job at farming mussels,
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because the mussel doesn't have
a lot of natural predators.
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That way the mollusk can focus on growing
the meat and not growing the shell, so
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you're gonna get more meat for your money.
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One thing you could do when you go to
buy mussels from your fish market,
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by checking the freshness again,
you can check the smell.
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You can ask where the mussels are from,
how long they've been in stock.
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Also, if the mussel is open you
don't want to purchase the mussel,
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it's a dead mussel, and it's no good.
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You wanna make sure the mussels are firm,
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and you can't easily open them.
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