Flex your mussels

8 Nov

The first time I prepared mussels, I was in for a big surprise. Not only are mussels incredibly reasonably priced (they’ll run you approx. $4/pound), but they are also shockingly simple to make.

The most important part of cooking mussels is preparing them properly. This means keeping them alive and cleaning your mussels.


  • You’ll want to buy approximately one pound of mussels per person.
  • You want to make sure that your mussels are alive. That means you should immediately throw away any mussels that are open or slimy. A closed mussel is a live mussel.
  • If you find a few that are open, give them a quick tap on the counter. If it closes back up, that means it is still alive and is safe to eat.
  • If you’re not cooking the mussels immediately, cover your bivalves with a cool towel and store it in the coolest part of your refrigerator.
  • When you’re ready to cook your mussels, give them one last run-through. You’ll want to pull off the “beard” that comes out from between the shells and scrape off any barnacles or residual sand.
  • If you buy your mussels from a nice market or grocery store, your mussels will already be cleaned for the most part. Nonetheless, you need to be sure to rinse your mussels to remove any grit. I use a colander to make this even easier.
One of the great things about mussels is that there are so many flavors you can use for cooking them. If you’ve been to a place like Granville Moore’s or Brasserie Beck, you’ve seen the various combinations you can use. White wine with garlic and herbs is probably the most common, but you don’t have to stop there.
Body-warming hearty red curry screams Fall to me, so I went for a red curry broth for my mussels. I adapted the recipe from my friend Olga’s Indian Styled Mussels, but made some changes and additions.
Ingredients (serves 2 people)
  • 2 pounds mussels
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used light)
  • Cumin and curry powder
  • Red curry paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 inch piece ginger, chopped finely
  • Lemongrass (I use sliced lemongrass that comes in a jar)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • French bread
1. Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high heat, and add garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, and curry paste. I approximated with the spices, and tasted it once I added the milk. It’s okay to add more spices and curry paste later in the process.
2. Add lemongrass and coconut milk.
3. Bring coconut milk to a simmer. Taste your broth here and add any more spices as needed.
4. Add diced tomatoes to your broth.
5. Add cleaned mussels and cover your pan.
6. Cook for 5 minutes, until the mussels have all opened. Discard any mussels that don’t open.
7. Serve in a bowl loaded with broth–and make sure you have plenty of sliced French bread to sop it up!
These are great to serve for guests, since most people mistakenly think that mussels are really expensive and hard to prepare. Wow them with this secretly simple–and delicious–dish!

3 Responses to “Flex your mussels”

  1. Kaoru (@Kay819) November 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    Yum these look great!

  2. Olga @ MangoTomato November 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    So glad I was your inspiration 🙂 Your mussels turned out great!!

  3. onevanillabean November 10, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    They look delicious!

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