On Steaming Mussels
Just like most sushi, steamed mussels is a dish I always thought I had to leave to the restaurants. With no prior experience in shellfish, how would I ever achieve this tasty dish on my own? Well I tried it out for the first time this past weekend and I came away with two lessons about mussels that I’d like to share with you here.
The first lesson I learned was that steaming mussels is easy. Growing up in a house with a kosher kitchen, I had no prior exposure to cooking shellfish since shellfish (mussels included) are not kosher. But to my surprise – despite the complex nature of the mussel itself, steaming mussels is anything but complex.
Here is a list of what you’ll need and how you can steam mussels in just4 easy steps:
1. Remove any extraneous beards from the mussels. (Basically make sure nothing is sticking out the shell that doesn’t look like it should be there).
2. Soak them in cold water for 20 minutes.
3. Place 1 C. water in a pot, add your steamer basket and then add one layer of mussels (make sure not to place mussels on top of each other because you won’t want to weigh them down when they’re trying to open).
4. Cover pot and steam mussels at medium heat for 5-7 minutes. The larger they open, the better. (Please note that just because they’re open does not mean they are fully cooked!)
That’s it! How easy was that? 20 minutes of prep, 5-7 minutes of cooking per batch. Add that to pasta and sauce and you’ve got a fancy homemade meal in under an hour!
We served our steamed mussels with a spicy tomato sauce over some linguine. I’m not going to share the recipe for the sauce just yet as it certainly needs some tweaking. Right now, it’s somewhere in between a liquidy broth for mussels and a thicker pasta sauce for linguine meeting neither task successfully. Unfortunately. But not to worry, we sopped up the sauce with chunks of bread and still enjoyed it as a flavor component for the mussels.
We bought our mussels from a place called Dirk’s Fish, located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. This was the same place we bought our sushi salmon back in February and we actually picked up another 1/2 lb. of the stuff for the hell of it because it was that good. Just like the mussels, I can say with certainty that everything we have bought at Dirk’s so far has been excellent in quality, which brings me to lesson #2:
Never judge a mussel by its shell.
The first time I had mussels, I was apparently spoiled with large mussels embodied in an even larger shell. My boyfriend told me the size of these mussels were not typical but I chose to ignore this advice and expect this size quality everywhere I went. But since my first mussel experience I have indeed endured some smaller mussels which in my opinion only lead to a disappointed appetite.
Well, when we first walked in to Dirk’s, we saw two kinds of mussels: smaller ones from Prince Edward Island, Canada at $5.00/lb. and larger Mediterranean mussels at $7.00/lb. So when D and I opted for the smaller ones since they were cheaper, I expected them to be small on the inside.
But boy was I wrong…Just look at the size of these things! They take up almost the entire shell! And they tasted delicious! Needless to say, I was anything but disappointed. Thanks Dirk’s Fish!