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Mussels


Ron Johnson
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No, it's not the New Zealand ones that I'm talking about - I don't eat or order those, largely because they're frozen. I'm talking about the black mussels. Whether they're specifically PEI (which are the ones I buy at home) I can't say, because I don't know if restaurants spring for those. But they're the regular black mussels, and the principal restaurant in question was the Belgian place "Petite Abeille" on 14th street, where for years and years the mussels have been spectacular. On my last visit the mussel meats were gigantic, but puffed-up, airy, fluffy, not particularly flavorful and not particularly tasting or chewing like a mussel. Some of the places in Jersey where I've had mussels lately have had them the same way. I'm wondering if maybe that's a feature of the season, or some other thing that I'm not aware of. But I sort of remember mussels as having texture and flavor, not like these.

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Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

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I always thought the fluffy consistancy was when mussels were overcooked, but I don't eat them enough to be sure.

Definitely not. In fact, overcooked mussels are quite the opposite - chewier than Big Red.

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Maybe try finding out where the offending mussels come from? They do taste different when raised in different locations. Here in Seattle, there is only one "brand" of mussels (Penn Cove) I will buy because I find them so much better than mussels grown elsewhere.

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I always assumed the texture indicated how long they were cooked. The big, soft, "fluffy" ones being undercooked; the shrunken tough ones being overcooked. Now I'm wondering if it's something else. Do you think they might brine them to plump them up?

Christine

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I have a couple of friends that run a mussel farm here in Casco Bay, Maine. They use forty foot ropes that they wrap baby mussels (spat) in a biodegradable netting around. After nine or so months, they haul them out, wrestle the full grown mussels off the rope, then run them through a "cleaner" that takes the barnacles and beards off. They pack them in net bags with a dated ID tag, and off they go to New York and beyond.

They have slowly gained new markets and shipping knowledge, because w/out beards, the shelf life is shorter. They sell lots before even stepping foot on the raft. I worked on the raft one day and took home fourteen pounds as a gift. I steamed them for supper in onion/bayleaf/WWine and they came out big and fluffy. Amazing flavour.

My guess is that you are getting some really fresh, aquaculture mussels.

The next day I cooked the rest in batches and packed them in a tapas style affair: EVOO/pimento/can't remember what else, but I had quarts of the stuff.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

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A slightly random thought. Could it be in the method of preparation? I find that when I steam them they have a better consistency then when I cook them in sauce or in a sauté pan.

Living hard will take its toll...
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  • 5 years later...

The mussels have been great lately around here, so I've been fiddling with a few different approaches, including several here. I've also got a bunch of kroeung in the fridge for an article I'm doing, and 1-2 T added to some thin coconut milk and the usual Khmer aromatics makes a great, if untraditional, base for the little guys.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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  • 1 year later...

I tried the winning Top Chef mussel recipe from last week. Wouldn't usually use a recipe but I thought if it was good enough to win the whole dinner challenge it was worth trying. I have to say, eh. I wouldn't use it again. Now I have a lb of cooked mussels leftover that I don't really want to eat as is.

Reb

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Not sure if this meets your "different flavors" criteria, but I find it hard to go past a bowl of mussels steamed in white wine, with parsley and tomato. This is a great dish to mop up with crusty bread. I don't have a recipe, but rather I make sure I use the following ingredients if I have them on hand : olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, pepper, chilli, tomato paste, Turkish sweet pepper paste, white wine, parsley and the mussels. Essentially you steam the mussels in the white wine and serve them covered in the sauce.

Whatever way you cook them - don't overcook them. There is a world of difference between the soft, delicate perfectly cooked mussel meat, and a rubbery, flavorless bit of chewing gum you get with an overcooked mussel.

Good luck and let us know how go.

Luke

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This is one of my favorites.

3531940359_6440471002_o.jpg

Mussels steamed in beer and aromatics, with crusty bread and lemon

Aromatics can be: dried orange peel, fennel seeds, chopped fennel, celery, celery leaves, shallot, onion, leeks and/or ramps.

Very often I use Belgian beer as the steaming liquid -- Ommegang Hennepin preferably. Sometimes Pernod, occasionally ouzo. Sometimes white wine.

I like to keep things simple and focus on the star of the show.

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  • 8 years later...
9 hours ago, heidih said:

OK saying out loud:  I WILL check out the local mussels FINALLY at Farmers Market tomorrow. I WILL post! Call me on it.

 

Well - the best laid plans. Regular fish vendor who normally has them from platforms just off-shore was not at the market. The only fish guy had them from Baja. Small and he had to sort through the whole bin to find some decent ones. They came in last night. Not sure  if gambling is the way. The racoons may feast tonight.

 

 

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Have never cultivated a taste for mussels. I grew up on the shores of Kentucky Lake, which is absolutely awash in mussels, and is the home of a thriving freshwater pearl industry, but it never occurred to us to eat 'em. 

 

Have often wondered why, since they appear to be along the lines of a freshwater oyster.

 

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Does anybody eat freshwater shellfish?  I've never heard of that.  In my mind mussels are always saltwater... but I now recall there being things like zebra mussels that have to be fresh water, since they are known for potentially  messing up the outflows at the local nuclear power plant... which clearly outflows into a river, not an ocean.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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No clue. Being relatively ignorant of mussels in general, I assumed they were all freshwater. I don't remember anyone around home eating them.The old folks would tell of going "musselling" for the shells, which were used to make buttons.

 

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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So a little googling found me this: https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/bb/documents/bb-55.pdf

 

It says they're edible( but not tasty), and long-lived accumulators of environmental pollution... so best avoided.  

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Sea mussels are just fine steamed open with only an aromatic broth, e.g. mirepoix + water.  Would you eat your freshwater ones that way?  Sounds like a yes.  Perhaps I'll have to go poking around the local streams and see if I can find any to try for myself.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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  • 2 years later...

Going to cook some mussels in a broth tonight. Would it be ok to include Spanish Chorizo & Pernod in the cook or would those favors clash with each other & be best to use one or the other. Was going to use a splash of cream too. If anyone can point me into the direction of a great recipe that would be awesome.  
Thanks 

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It sounds good to me. Personally, I'd leave out the cream. There is one way to find out!

 

I usually just do garlic, parsley and white wine

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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