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n2mark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 02:19 PM
Original message
Questions about mussels
Sometime ago I bought mussels (all were closed) from the store as soon as I put them in water to wash them they opened, I threw them away thinking they were bad. Was I wrong in doing this? Should I have returned them? I see many mussels opened in the store, do you recommend not buying them?
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Phentex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 04:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. copied from Ochef....
Mussels are very versatile and can be steamed, broiled, deep fried, even grilled. But generally, they are steamed first, even if they are to be finished by some other cooking method. Steaming them causes the mussels to open so you can get them out of their shells, either to eat, add to a salad, or toss on the grill.

Another reason mussels are steamed is that they release a flavorful broth as they are cooked, which you really dont want to dilute and lose in a gallon or more of boiling water. Mussels can be steamed in just about any liquid, but white wine or water are probably most common. In simple preparations, the cooking liquid is often just poured over the finished mussels as a sauce, or it can be transformed with other ingredients into something very fancy.

To steam mussels, heat a cup or two of water or white wine in a large pot over very high heat, add the mussels, and cover. When the steam begins forcing its way out from beneath the lid, lower the heat to medium and steam for five minutes. If you can do it carefully with pot holders or a kitchen towel, shake the pot to redistribute the mussels, and cook for another three minutes. Check to see if all the mussels have opened. If not, cover the pot and cook for another two to three minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open. If you are going to fry, broil, or grill the mussels, remove them from the pot as soon as the shells open, and then cook them briefly with the second method to avoid overcooking them.

After you remove the mussels from the pot, you can serve the sauce as is, reduce the cooking liquid to make it thicker, or add spices, herbs, aromatic vegetables, or other flavorings (fish sauce, soy sauce, tomatoes, etc.), make it richer with cream, butter, or mayonnaise, and/or thicken it with a roux or cornstarch. The mussels can be served in half of the shell or removed from the shell.

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Shredr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 01:52 AM
Response to Original message
2. The same thing happened to me...
And I did take them back to the store. They were still good, they had apparently just opened slightly because they were really cold. The trick is, if you pinch the shells and they close (or tighten) again, they're still alive. If they just stay open and don't move when you pinch them (or if the shell is broken) they're bad.
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Mandate My Ass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 08:59 AM
Response to Original message
3. Don't buy opened mussels - they're usually dead
and therefore inedible, unless like Shredr said, they snap closed when you pick them up.

A friend who worked in a restaurant told me a good way to soak them is in a mixture of water and cornmeal for several hours. It gets all the sand and grit out and wait till you seel what fall to the bottom of the bowl, which otherwise you would have eaten. x(
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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
4. I think the ones that open in water are still alive
and the ones that remain closed are dead. So you throw away the closed not the opened. But it has been awhile since I made mussels, so I could be mistaken.
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Pert_UK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-31-05 04:49 AM
Response to Original message
5. You have to check........
Mussels should really be closed when you buy them. However, they may start to open during the journey home or when you wash them. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad.

What you need to do is tap the shell of each mussel with the back of a knife, quite sharply (but not sharply enough to break the shell!). If the mussel is still alive (and therefore good to eat) it should pull itself closed, although this can be quite a slow movement, rather than a snapping shut. Throw away any that don't close like this, or any that are smashed or damaged.

Cook the mussels as per your recipe (I usually put about 2 glasses of white wine into a big pan, add the mussels and let them steam in the wine as it boils...see my moules mariniere recipe on here for info). After 4-5 minutes all the mussles should have opened in the steam - throw away any that haven't.

Basically, mussels should be closed when you start to cook and open when you finish.
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-31-05 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. You said the magic word!
"Slowly"

I have seen them take as long as (seemingly) a minute close. They do not, as you so correctly point out, snap shut. They're really pretty sluggish in the shell closing department.

Lesson: when you check open shell mussels, be patient.
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