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Gail Jan 9, 2011 12:34 PM

Looking for a simple recipe you like for mussels. Please not a cream type broth like Ireland, but a French/Belgium type wine sauce. Also, what are the best mussels to use? I've eaten these in restaurants, but have never done them at home.

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  1. t
    tzurriz RE: Gail Jan 9, 2011 01:00 PM

    Mine isn't so much a "recipe"
    1 bottle white wine (inexpensive but drinkable)
    4-6 cloves garlic crushes
    2 nice sized pats of butter

    Combine it all and steam until the mussels are cooked. Must have a good quality bread for sopping.

    1. KatoK RE: Gail Jan 9, 2011 01:34 PM

      I've never used this exact recipe, but it is close enough to the simple preparation that I've used often. This is Ina Garten's take:


      Don't forget some good, crusty artisan bread, the broth is so delicious, you'll want to sop up every drop.

      1. a
        AdamD RE: Gail Jan 9, 2011 01:43 PM

        lager beer, garlic, parsley, a pat of butter
        steam for a few minutes


        1 Reply
        1. re: AdamD
          Glencora RE: AdamD Jan 9, 2011 04:13 PM

          I love mussels with beer and a pat of butter, but I add some minced ginger.

        2. j
          James Hogue RE: Gail Jan 9, 2011 01:56 PM

          Sweat diced garlic and shallots in olive oil and butter.
          Add mussels and toss around.
          Add 1 cup dry white wine and cover-shake the pan a few times and cook for 7-8 minutes.
          Uncover and add sea salt and pepper from the mill and finnish with chopped flat leaf parsley.
          Serve with a nice rustic bread to mop up the broth------enjoy!

          2 Replies
          1. re: James Hogue
            aurora50 RE: James Hogue Jan 9, 2011 02:23 PM

            Since you've never done mussels at home, my two cents:
            1. The best mussels to use, will probably be the ones you can get your hands on. Where I live (50 miles east of Los Angeles), I cannot get New Zealand green, except cooked. You will probably end up with black mussels, which are perfectly fine.
            2. I'm assuming, but just in case you don't know, to buy probably, at least 1/4 more of a pound than you're planning for, because some inevitably won't be good.
            3. To determine if good: A. Tap mussel to see if it closes. If it does, it's still alive. Check also for cracked shells. Toss any ones that don't close or are cracked.
            B. Go ahead and cook per recipe; ones that don't open, toss. They're dead, and not good to eat.

            1. re: James Hogue
              salvatoregianpaolo RE: James Hogue Jan 10, 2011 08:38 AM

              You got it right, James. That's all it takes!

            2. b
              Breezychow RE: Gail Jan 9, 2011 02:34 PM

              The best mussels to use? Lol! It's doubtless you are not going to have a choice unless you're a restaurant chef. The best mussels to use will be those that have a fresh smell & are CLOSED. No gapers. Any that are slightly open should close right away when gently tapped, thus proving they're still alive. (Shellfish food poisoning is one of the worst ones to experience.)

              Then - don't knock yourself out, just take it simple the first time around. Gone are the days when one had to rinse off scads of mud, remove the mussels' "beards", & scrub off all sorts of flotsam & jetsam. These days, nearly all mussels are farmed & arrive at your market fairly pristine. Just give them a good rinse & exam - discarding any that are cracked or don't close when gently tapped.

              Then put them all in a large pot & add about 2" or so (for each 2 pounds of mussels) of dry white wine. Remember - you're not BOILING these mussels (an entire bottle of wine would be unbelievable overkill), you're STEAMING them. Add several sprigs of bruised fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, several sprigs of bruised fresh thyme, several cloves of peeled crushed garlic, & a couple of whole dried chili peppers if you like. Cover & bring everything to a boil over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until mussels open.

              Remove mussels to large soup bowls or plates & serve with melted lemon butter, broth & crusty bread if desired.

              Optionally (& what I do), serve without the broth & save it in the freezer to add to your next clam sauce, seafood soup, or seafood sauce.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Breezychow
                Johnny West RE: Breezychow Jan 9, 2011 02:45 PM

                I clean the beards off two pounds of mussels and put in a big
                pan, add three chopped garlic, a hand full dried paisley,
                and about 2 cups of dry white wine, stir with a slotted spoon,
                put a lid on and turn on high, bring to a boil for about two
                minutes and until all the mussels are open. On the side we
                have a baguette and butter.

                I learned this from my neighbor lady in Miesau who was from
                Forebach in Lorraine. We were planning on having this tomorrow
                night. The Penn Cove mussels are in every store here.

              2. e
                escondido123 RE: Gail Jan 9, 2011 02:46 PM

                I also add a large onion, chopped and sweated. My preference is for small mussels. When they're too big I find it's too big a mouthful.

                1. g
                  Gail RE: Gail Jan 9, 2011 03:26 PM

                  Thank you all so much! It all sounds very easy so think I can handle it. Now to check out my market for the mussels.

                  1. a
                    aurora50 RE: Gail Jan 9, 2011 05:31 PM

                    Gail, when are you planning to shop for these? If you run into trouble finding them, I'd have some suggestions.
                    Also, if you are planning on getting these and not cooking them right away, there are very specific ways to store them -
                    Let us know!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: aurora50
                      Gail RE: aurora50 Jan 9, 2011 06:08 PM

                      aurora, I will shop for them this next Thurs and will prepare them on Fri. I have seen them in my favorite market, but have no idea what kind they are. I also have a Whole Foods that I will call before I go as it is a bit far from my house. Any suggestions are surely welcome!

                      1. re: Gail
                        aurora50 RE: Gail Jan 9, 2011 06:26 PM

                        They're probably the black mussels, but whatever they are, I'm sure they'll turn out fine.
                        Just make sure they wrap them loosely in paper or in a paper bag, NOT in plastic. Plastic kills them.
                        When you get them home, do NOT store them in plastic or soak them in water - that will kill them immediately as well.
                        Just get a pan, with some damp paper towels on the bottom, and lay them in the bottom of the pan, as much in a single layer as you can, with perhaps more damp towels on top. Then store them in the fridge, undisturbed. They should be fine till you cook them the next day.

                        1. re: aurora50
                          Gail RE: aurora50 Jan 10, 2011 07:42 AM

                          Thanks for the excellent advice. I had no idea proper storage was so crucial.

                          1. re: Gail
                            aurora50 RE: Gail Jan 10, 2011 08:56 AM

                            You're welcome!
                            Believe me, it's knowledge from making my own errors, and from research.

                            1. re: aurora50
                              Breezychow RE: aurora50 Jan 10, 2011 11:32 AM

                              There's no big special secret method to storing live shellfish properly.

                              Just keep them unwrapped in a bowl or platter (they need to breathe) in the coolest part of your fridge. Definitely no water, but Ziploc bags of ice underneath them will help keep them at their best. Do keep the ice enclosed in Ziplocs, because you don't want your shellfish swimming in water, which will also kill them.

                              I grew up on the waterfront, & this is how we kept all our freshly-dug clams & mussels for 24-48 hours until we used them.

                              1. re: Breezychow
                                aurora50 RE: Breezychow Jan 10, 2011 11:41 AM

                                This is the basic method of keeping them.

                    2. Novelli RE: Gail Jan 10, 2011 11:42 AM

                      I prepare my mussels like I prepare my clams.

                      Sweat out some garlic and minced shallot in butter with a bay leaf and a sprig or 2 of thyme.
                      Once transparent, turn up heat, toss in mussels, and a couple cups or so of white wine to get them steaming. Cover and let sit until they just open. Toss some parsley over it, grab a big chunk of crusty bread and go to town!

                      1. JoanN RE: Gail Jan 10, 2011 11:51 AM

                        One tip I haven't seen mentioned here that I think elevates all steamed mussel and clam dishes is to remove the shellfish from the pot (I use an Asian spider) and boil down the sauce for a few minutes. This helps to concentrate the flavors of the juices that have been released from the shellfish with whatever flavors are in the sauce. Once the sauce has been reduced, put the shellfish back in the pot just long enough to warm it up. Concentrating the essence of the mussels and/or clams can take this dish to a higher level.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: JoanN
                          Breezychow RE: JoanN Jan 10, 2011 12:30 PM

                          Just be sure not to use ALL that reduced sauce. Leave the grit et al behind & toss it. And regardless of farmed shellfish or whatnot, there will always be a little flotsam & jetsam in the bottom of the pot that should be discarded.

                          And as I posted here before, if you're not interested in serving your mussels with a sauce, just save that great leftover broth in your freezer to add to a white shellfish sauce for pasta, or a seafood soup, or a seafood whatever! :)

                          1. re: Breezychow
                            aurora50 RE: Breezychow Jan 13, 2011 06:21 PM

                            So Gail, have you bought your mussels?
                            How are they doing in the fridge?

                        2. o
                          oldman83 RE: Gail Jan 14, 2011 07:45 AM

                          Wine isn't necessary . Why not strain the juices through a fine sieve before reducing or placing the juices in a tall skinny glass to let the sediment which is ever present to fall to the bottom of the glass.

                          1. o
                            oldman83 RE: Gail Jan 14, 2011 07:54 AM

                            I haven't seen it mentioned as yet but you should also discard any unopened mussels cause they were probably dead to begin with and that is the reason they did no open when heated. Of course this would not apply if using frozen green Mussels from New Zealand. By the way has anyone noticed any difference in taste between our California Black Mussels and the New Zealand Green. I once got some fresh water mussels while visiting Maine. Anyone out there who has heard of them.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: oldman83
                              aurora50 RE: oldman83 Jan 14, 2011 08:58 AM

                              Well, yes, I mentioned about unopened mussels in my first post above.
                              And I have tried the New Zealand Greens, but in my store they were already cooked, and who knows how fresh they were -
                              They weren't very good.
                              But I have had them in restaurants, where they were fresh and delicious. When I had them that way, I actually preferred the taste of them to the black.

                              1. re: aurora50
                                aurora50 RE: aurora50 Jan 16, 2011 01:17 PM

                                Gail, did you ever cook your mussels?
                                How did they turn out?

                                1. re: aurora50
                                  Gail RE: aurora50 Jan 16, 2011 04:07 PM

                                  aurora, sadly no, I haven't tried them yet. It isn't that I haven't tried my various markets!!! I live in CA, but inland and all I can find are the very small black ones. I have had these in restaurants and they just don't campare with the NZ greens. These (NZ) have to be special ordered. I called many places and just threw up my hands. Whole Foods is my best bet, but they said they are having trouble getting them since Nov. Well, I shall keep in touch with WF and maybe try special ordering them...good grief.

                                  1. re: Gail
                                    aurora50 RE: Gail Jan 16, 2011 04:18 PM

                                    Yeah, that's what I said about, whatever ones you can get your hands on.
                                    I've always cooked with the black ones.
                                    If you resign yourself to cooking with the blacks, I have a suggestion:
                                    Try your local seafood restaurant. I live near a Market Broiler restaurant, which happens to have a market with fresh seafood in the front of the restaurant.
                                    We can get good, fresh black mussels, for surprisingly not much money.
                                    We just got some for Paella last night, we got 10-12 for $1.50 (I think).

                                    1. re: aurora50
                                      Gail RE: aurora50 Jan 16, 2011 06:28 PM

                                      Thank you I do have a seafood restaurant that also has a fish market. I hadn't even thought of that. It is close to my house and I will check it out. I'm not giving up...yet!

                                      1. re: Gail
                                        aurora50 RE: Gail Jan 16, 2011 07:30 PM

                                        Good for you!

                                    2. re: Gail
                                      jaykayen RE: Gail Jan 16, 2011 09:53 PM

                                      You might have better chance with NZ greens at an Asian store.

                                      But I think some of the best you can get in LA is stuff from Carlsbad Aqua Farm.

                              2. letsindulge RE: Gail Jan 16, 2011 02:17 PM

                                One of my favorite mussel preparations is coconut milk, minced ginger & garlic, red curry paste, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. SO GOOD!

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