Too many people go through life being afraid to cook mussels. Don’t be one of them. Mussels are the easiest things imaginable to cook.
The best tip for buying mussels: Chat up the person behind the fish counter. Ask when the mussels came in and where they’re from. Choose tightly closed mussels with strong shells.
Before cooking, scrub mussels with a stiff brush. If there’s a fuzzy “beard” still attached, yank it off.
The open-close rule is this: If the mussel is open before cooking, toss it. If it’s still closed after cooking, toss it. Otherwise, all clear.
Steamed Mussels With White Wine
Yield: Serves 4
4-6 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley, chervil or basil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Place mussels in a large pot and add wine, herbs and garlic. Cover the pot, place over high heat, and cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until most of the mussels are opened, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels to a serving bowl, then strain the cooking liquid over them. Drizzle oil and lemon juice over the mussels. Serve.
Source: Adapted from “The Joy of Cooking” (Scribner)