How To Cook Mussels
How to Steam Mussels:
- For Mussels serve about 1/2 pound per person (appetizer) or approximately 1 pound per person (main).
- Check for any cracked or damaged shells, toss them in the garbage.
- Scrub with a stiff brush or scrubber under cool running water.
- Place them in a large bowl or pot then cover with cold water (you’ll want the water level a few inches above the top of the clams).
- Add approximately 2/3 cup of salt per 2 quarts (8 cups) water, then mix the water and clams with your hands to distribute the salt.
- Allow to sit for about an hour then drain, rinse well to get rid of any loose grit and fill with a fresh batch of water, soak for another 20 minutes.
- Rinse and repeat again until clean.
- There will likely be some in the batch with open shells, snap them smartly with your fingers or tap them against a hard surface. If they don’t close, throw them out (they’re likely dead).
- Examine each mussel shell and remove any strings of beard you see, simply pull off with your fingers or a knife. Pull back towards the hinge end.
- These little guys aren’t a treat when overcooked, but it’s impossible to give a specific time for cooking (since it depends on mollusk size, quantity, and even the cookware used).
- Cook just until shells pop open wide, that’s the best way to tell when they’re done.
- When steaming, keep liquid at a minimum so the mollusks aren’t boiled. This is another instance where specific amounts are difficult to give since it depends on the pan or cookware size being used and the amount being cooked.
- Add enough liquid to cover the bottom of a deep pan or stockpot completely and then some (about 1/4? deep), heat on medium to high heat.
- You can use water, white wine, beer, with even some fresh lemon juice and butter added.
- When the liquid starts to boil, add shellfish.
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook until done.
- How to tell when they’re cooked? The shells will open wide. Cooking time depends on the size of the shellfish and can be anywhere from 4 to 10 minutes. After cooking: shells should be open, toss those that aren’t in the garbage.
For proper food safety, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that clam and mussels be steamed in their shells for at least four to nine minutes after the water reaches a full boil. Be sure to discard any clams or mussels that do not open during cooking.