mussels from scratch

8:50 AM sians 2 Comments

p.s. taking a break from restaurant week entries. will resume very soon :)

okay true story. i've never cooked mussels from scratch. ever.

...until two weekends ago. 

i went grocery shopping  at a korean supermarket, hmart and found fresh mussels for $2.50 for a 2lb bag. being a mussels fan, i almost jumped in joy and was reaching out for a bag but paused for a moment cos i was a lil intimidated. i've never cooked these before.

but fueled with love for these morsels, i was determined to learn how to do it (plus i had a great recipe in mind!) so instead of getting one bag, i got two. the main reason was probably i thought one bag of mussels wasn't enough to satiate my cravings for

little did i know, cleaning the mussels itself takes a ton of work. a few good tips for cooking mussels and such (taken from
01 | mussels must be cooked while they are still alive
02 | discard mussels with cracked shells, chipped or broken
03 | to test and see if the mussels are alive, you do the tap test. shells of live mussels are tightly closed. if they are gaping slightly, they should close if you tap on the shell
04 | the double check to see if the mussels were alive after they are steamed. if they fail to open, throw them out.

then comes to step of cleaning the mussels.

01 | the mussels had to be soaked in cool fresh water for 20-30 minutes before cooking to expel most sand inside the shell as they breathe. (some recommend to add corn meal to help expel more sand)
02 | clean the mussels under running water with your hands or a firm brush.
03 | some mussels may have a "beard" which you will have to grip firmly and give it a tug towards the hinge edge of the shell. if it is stubborn you may need a knife to remove.

all that is left to do is to cook them up! :) i've always loved the mussels from the publican and was randomly googling for the recipe and actually found it! a very simple recipe but so very delicious.

the bay leaf, garlic, shallots, celery and chili were simmered for one minute in a tablespoon of melted butter. i didn't have chili so i substituted with chili flakes which probably changed the flavor profile a lil bit. the cleaned mussels were added and stirred at a high heat.

the recipe called for gueuze beer which could be substituted with white wine. on food network, they've always said use wine that you would drink but i don't drink wine so i had to look it up online to see what would work. usually a dry white wine would work such as sauvignon blanc or a chardonay. so sauvignon blanc it was and i bought a one that was inexpensive since i am only using half a cup from the whole bottle.

after the wine was added, it was covered for three minutes or until all the mussels are open (yeah it only takes a couple minutes minutes to cook)

to finish up, i added the remaining butter to give the sauce the richness and lemon juice to bring out its freshness. then, seasoned with salt and pepper to more stir and voila! it was ready to be served. see.. i told you it was super simple, right? i wouldn't have known how simple AND quick it is to cook mussels if i didn't pick up that bag of mussels.

my verdict: pretty good. the broth itself had the flavor of mussels running through and this dish uses such simple ingredients that the natural flavor of the mussels came through. and of course, it also depends on the quality of the wine you use and the freshness of the mussels.

even so, the cleaning process itself kinda made me think twice if i'd want to do it again. i've read that farmed mussels are rarely gritty such as prince edward island mussels. so maybe i'll try it with that next time. but now i have overcome my intimidation of cooking mussels and doing it right makes me beam with pride :)

of course, being able to eat all the mussels i want at the comfort of my own home is quite the reward in itself. crusty bread recommended to sop up all the broth :)

if you are interested in trying out the recipe, you can find it here:

the publican mussels
by paul kahan

  • 1.5 lbs mussels
  • 4 tablespoons butter (half stick)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chili
  • 1/2 cup gueuze beer (lindeman's cuvee rene or substitute white wine)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
directions |
  • over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter in a 3 quart saute pan
  • simmer the bay, garlic, shallot, celery and chili for one minute. do not color
  • add mussels; turn up the heat to high and stir to incorporate the ingredients
  • add gueuze and cover for three minutse or until all the mussels are open
  • add the remaining butter, lemon juice and salt & pepper
  • once the butter has melted, give the mussels one more stir and serve
  • serve the mussels with baguette and the left-over gueuze


terrance said...

Nice, I'm tempted to make it now as well.

Sian Mei said...

terrance: you should. they are uber simple. and taste so good!