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How to Buy & Cook Mussels

Learn how to buy and cook mussels in this Howcast food video with Chef Brendan McDermott.


What we're going to do today is we're actually going to clean and cook up some Prince Edward Island, PEI mussels, or Prince Edward Island mussels. Mussels are pretty awesome. They're really, really good, really easy to cook, and they're really easy to take care of. What you're looking for with mussels is to make sure that they're sealed. If a couple of them look open you can always squeeze them a couple times to make sure that they seal up. When you get them from the store or when you're storing them for a couple of days, make sure you don't wrap them in plastic because they do need to breathe. Same with clams, oysters, mussels - they all need air, or oxygen in general, so you don't want to suffocate them by wrapping them in plastic. They'll start bubbling and choking and it's really not cool, because you actually want these to stay alive until they hit the pot or until you shuck them.

Now with mussels, sometimes they have a little beard on them which is part of the barnacle which actually lets them lock on to things. What you want to do is you really want to clear that out. You want to take that beard out. Then once you've done that to your mussels, you can then give them a quick wash. We'll clean them up, and then you can cook them. They also hold really well if you keep them on ice and just take a damp kitchen towel or some wet paper towels and just keep them wet. Just make sure that they stay nice and wet. That's all. And that they can breathe.

Some of the really good ways to cook mussels - my personal favorite is to really just get them into a nice hot pot and let them open up, and then hit them with some white wine or even some beer is always really nice. You can use herbs, or some people like to use a Thai curry paste and really get some spice in there. Also Old Bay, you can't go wrong. So you just get them in there and then let them steam. You want to take a piece of tin foil or a lid, seal the pot, and just let them steam a little bit and that will help them pop open.

If you ever get a mussel that doesn't open, you probably don't want to eat it. That means it's already dead. And like I was saying a second ago, if you have one that's open a little bit, you can always squeeze it a little bit. If it seals back up that means they're still alive. If they stay open and they kind of look dried out on the inside, they're probably already dead or really close to it. You don't want to eat them, so throw those away. Also, if you ever get a shell that's cracked, same thing. Just throw them away. That's pretty much the best way to do them. You can also throw them on the grill, let them pop open as well, and then just hit them with some sort of sauce or condiment that you like.

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