This makes a home-cooked meal way less daunting.
There’s one major difference between the mussels hanging out at the beach and those on the dinner table: hygiene! Before mussels can hit the plate, they need a good scrub. That’s because fresh mussels can be covered with gritty sand, squishy ocean scum, and even a beard. But it’s worth the effort: These molluscs are high in protein, yet much lower in cholesterol and bad saturated fat than red meat.
First, make sure you buy high-quality fresh mussels. To clean the mussel shell, use a simple kitchen scrubber (think of those dark green sponges everyone has by their kitchen sink). Lightly scrub away any dirt or grime you find on the shell. This is especially important if your mussels recipe is cooked and served in the same sauce. You don’t want sand in your white wine broth!
As for debearding mussels, this crucial step can be done with just a twist of the fingers. The mussel beard is a set of strings that hang from the mussel shell to help it attach to wooden poles or on the side of rocks. Once you find the beard, simply grab hold of it between your fingers and give it a twist and a tug. The mussel beard should come loose easily.
While cleaning mussels, this is a good time to look for open shells. Mussels are actually alive, and a closed shell ensures the mussel stays fresh. If you find a shell that has opened and will not close again, the mussel inside has died and is no longer good for eating. (Rest in peace—and throw it out!)
Once you have beardless, clean shells, you are ready to start cooking mussels! No matter how you choose to prepare your mussels, just remember to give them this much-needed bath.
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.
00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:08,606
00:00:08,606 --> 00:00:10,670
It's very important to clean mussels.
00:00:10,670 --> 00:00:15,685
They accumulate a lot of unnecessary
barnacles and ocean scum as well.
00:00:15,685 --> 00:00:19,429
[LAUGH] One thing you wanna do is this
thing called debearding that I'm going to
00:00:19,429 --> 00:00:20,359
show you how to do.
00:00:20,359 --> 00:00:23,604
The mussel actually grows attached
to a rope or a wooden pole, and
00:00:23,604 --> 00:00:27,026
that beard actually keeps them stuck
to the wooden pole or the ropes.
00:00:27,026 --> 00:00:28,461
You want to remove that as well and
00:00:28,461 --> 00:00:31,445
then gently scrub the outside before
you go to cooking your mussels.
00:00:31,445 --> 00:00:34,112
So, I'm just using a plain
green sponge here.
00:00:34,112 --> 00:00:37,552
This is a scrubby sponge, you can use
whatever you like to clean the outside.
00:00:37,552 --> 00:00:39,410
And then here's one of
the beard I was talking about.
00:00:39,410 --> 00:00:41,475
You just gently pull that and
it comes right off.
00:00:41,475 --> 00:00:43,408
00:00:43,408 --> 00:00:44,579
We actually found a dead mussel here.
00:00:44,579 --> 00:00:46,110
You can see it's open.
00:00:46,110 --> 00:00:49,350
When I press it, it doesn't re-close,
so we're just gonna get rid of that.
00:00:49,350 --> 00:00:50,530
When you buy fresh mussels and
00:00:50,530 --> 00:00:53,920
if you're not gonna cook them right away,
you don't wanna wrap them in plastic and
00:00:53,920 --> 00:00:57,000
keep them in an airtight container
because they will suffocate.
00:00:57,000 --> 00:00:58,281
They're actually still alive.
00:00:58,281 --> 00:01:02,539
So, you wanna just keep them in an open
container with a little bit of ice so
00:01:02,539 --> 00:01:05,712
the ice can run through and
keep them very, very cold.
00:01:05,712 --> 00:01:08,084
All right, great, here are our clean
mussels, they're ready to go in the pot.
00:01:08,084 --> 00:01:13,874