Would you believe that I’d never cooked mussels? Well, at least, not until two weeks ago. I was a mussel-cooking virgin. The molluscs intimidated me. I had no idea what to do with them. Seriously!
Then I came across a recipe in a tourism magazine and I just about keeled over at how easy it looked: Mix ingredients together, add mussels, bring to a boil, cook until mussels open… That it?!? Well, now I’ve tried them, you can bet I’ll be trying them again.
- Farmed mussels are sustainable. They are grown on ropes suspended in the water.
- Winter mussels are the tastiest.
- Mussels have more iron and vitamin B12 than beef. They are also a good source of omega-3 fats, zinc, antioxidants, and protein.
- Most of Canada’s mussels come from PEI- 41 million pounds annually. Wow!
- Mussel farming can often improve water quality: mussels can filter 0.5 to 1.25 gallons of water every hour!
- Some cultures have been farming mussels for over 800 years!
- Some types of mussels can live up to 50 years, although 2-3 years is more common.
- Female mussels have orange/pink meat, and male mussel have almost white meat.
- Mussels are a great choice for farming: they grow quickly and aren’t susceptible to disease.
- Wild mussel beds are shrinking due to global warming.
Here is the recipe I used. I found it in the Route des Cidres brochure from Tourism Montérégie. It was created by Chef Stéphane Camirand, executive chef at l’Atrium at the Holiday Inn Montreal-Longeuil. My only complaint is that the broth was super sweet. If I made it again, I’d use regular hard cider or Dégel as opposed to ice cider.
Apple and Ice Cider Mussels
- 3-4 kg of fresh mussels (I used less)
- 1 1/2 Tbs butter
- 4-5 shallots, chopped finely
- 1 cup 35% cream (I used Liberté organic)
- 1 cup ice cider (I used 3/4 cup)
- 2 apples, finely sliced
- 1 Tbs maple sugar (I used syrup)
- Salt and pepper
1. Wash and rinse the mussels. Mussels should be alive when you cook them. This means that the shells should be closed. If a shell is open, tap it lightly to see if it closes. Any shells that don’t close should be discarded.
2. Heat the butter and sauté the shallots. I used a wok since it seemed to make sense for the volume of mussels. Add the mussels, apples, cider, cream, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the mussels open. Serve in bowls or soup plates sprinkled with the maple sugar.
Note: If you are using a natural cream that doesn’t contain stabilizers, make sure you shake the carton well or blend it quickly with a hand blender. I’ve found the cream separates. Also, initially the cream curdled in this recipe, but then evened out and looked fine toward the end of the cooking process. I’m not sure if that was because it didn’t have any stabilizers in it, or if any heavy cream would do the same.
I had a lot of broth left over after serving up the mussels. I couldn’t let it go to waste so I used it as a base for a cream soup. So good!
Apparently you can compost mussel shells. Just make sure to crush them well before adding to your compost. (Thanks @rootcellarsrock in Nfld for that tip!)
Do you cook mussels? What do you do with them? Now I’ve been initiated, I want to try more recipes!