Mussels for the Novice

In flavor, mussels are comparable to other bivalves (clams, oysters), “but maybe taste a little more of the sea,” says dmd_kc. thew agrees: Mussels are “soft, briny, creamier in flavor than other bivalves, and perhaps slightly fishier.” Unlike other bivalves, mussels are pretty much always served cooked, says gordeaux. One thing about mussels: Freezing completely ruins them, says gordeaux. “They are one bivalve that turn into garbage once frozen. I can spot a frozen mussel after one bite. They get really firm, almost rigid. I just can’t do frozen mussels. Not worth it in my book,” he says.

How to try them? The classic preparation is the exquisitely simple moules marinière, mussels steamed or simmered in white wine and garlic. Using a simple marinara sauce for a simmer will work well—especially “with a good french bread to sop up the yummy sauce with,” says gordeaux. And “if you want to drift away from all these tomato/wine sauce advocates, if you want to run at the edge of the pack, then lightly batter, coat with a few bread crumbs and deep fry,” suggests Paulustrious. “Drizzle with a little garlic butter. The sea washes all the calories away.”

Board Link: What are mussels like?

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