Anyone who knows me knows that I won’t cook things alive – like lobster. I also can’t kill anything – even spiders. So, it goes without saying that I even shocked myself when it came to cooking these live mussels. I guess the fact that they don’t have faces helped, in addition to the fact that they don’t have souls or emotions (…right?) I just kept repeating to myself, “They are alive like a plant is alive; they are like plants. Mussels. Plants. Everything is going to be okay.“
Preparing mussels can be a bit of work if you have a lot of them, and there are a few things that you definitely want to look for.
- Is the shell open prior to cooking? If you find yourself with mussels that are open prior to cooking, you need to test them them out and make sure that they are, er, still alive. It sounds wrong and sad and barbaric, I know. I hate myself. All right, in order to test the mussel, gently tap on the shell with a utensil (knife, spoon, fork, whatever). If the mussel closes up again, it’s good to go. If it doesn’t close, discard it. That means it’s dead and has likely been dead for a while, therefore probably slightly rotted.
- Cracked or Damaged mussels cannot be saved. If you find a mussel that has a large crack/hole and is damaged, discard it. Seriously – don’t even think about it. It feels terrible to waste food, but the food is already waste at that point so…there’s that.
- Barnacles and strings – get rid of those things! Fresh mussels will typically still have little barnacles attached to them and may have tendrils or “beards”. I love beards, but not on my mussels. With a small scrubbing brush, gently scrub the barnacles from the shells under cold running water. Then, gently pull out any tendrils (looks like string) from the shell. While cleaning shells, I place my cleaned mussels on a bed of ice to keep them cool.
- Closed after being cooked is no bueno. Once your mussels are cooked, all good mussels will have spread themselves open. The ones that have remained closed are to be discarded. There are some contrasting opinions about this out there. Some people say that this is an old wives tale, but I’d much rather be safe than sorry when it comes to shellfish; you just don’t want to mess around with the creatures of the sea.
Moving along to the exciting stuff: flavours!
I could not stop eating these darned things. I actually solely made them for blogging purposes – I had no company over. No biggie, because I spent a good 20 minutes hunched over the skillet forking sweet gingery and coconut-y mussel flesh into my pie hole and it was delightful and probably insanely unattractive but…what are you gonna do?
I have another mussel recipe that I’d like to share eventually, but I wanted to try something different that I don’t see too often.
TL;DR – MAKE THESE IF YOU KNOW WHAT IS GOOD FOR YOU.
Coconut Ginger Mussels
- 1 sweet onion finely diced
- 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 13 oz can of light coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon of organic honey
- 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar
- 1 lb of mussels cleaned
Heat the oil in a large saucepan/deep skillet.
Saute the onions and garlic on medium-low heat until softened and fragrant.
Add the ginger, and stir.
Add the coconut milk, honey, and rice vinegar.
Bring to a boil, then add the mussels.
Cover and cook, stirring frequently, for approx. 5-6 minutes. After 5-6 minutes, the mussels should be opened. This means they are ready.
Discard any closed mussels.
Divide the mussels into bowls or onto a large platter and drizzle with the cooking juices.