As you can see, we were absolutely clueless, so after trawling the internet on what to do with them, Sir D compiled some points on how to prepare mussels for future reference. And so I present to you: Sir D's Guide to Keeping Those Babies Alive!
- Mussels and other shellfish such as oysters develop bacteria when they die, and you will get sick if you eat them! Sir D was quite taken aback by this news and thus made it his personal mission to keep his 'babies' alive - hence the name of this guide =P
- If you are not going to use them straight away, store your mussels in the bottom of your fridge, covered with a damp cloth. They're best eaten on the day you buy them, but will keep for a few days in the fridge if required.
- When preparing your mussels, look through them and chuck out any that have cracked or broken shells. If you see any that are slightly open, give them a squeeze and they should close if they're alive. If not, discard these as well.
- You probably want to get rid of the crap on the shells. To do this, grab a scrubbing brush and scrub the barnacles and other things off the surface of the shell under running water.
- You probably also want to get rid of the beards (those hairy looking things sticking out of the shell). To do this, grab hold of the beard and wiggle it from side to side, whilst pulling firmly. It should eventually break free from the mussel. If your mussel is being stubborn, you may have to cut it off with some scissors.
- Now that your mussels are clean on the outside, we have to get rid of any sand and other crap on the inside. To do this, soak the mussels in fresh water for about 10 minutes so that they can "breathe" and expel any sand. Remember to do this just before you cook them, otherwise they may die (and we don't want that happening!)
- Remove them from the water and check that the mussels with open shells are still alive by squeezing them again. Now you're ready to cook them!
Admittedly our pot of white wine mussels didn't turn out to be the prettiest dish on the planet, but they sure tasted delicious with the briney taste of the mussels and the rich, creamy tomato sauce. And none of the sauce went to waste of course because we soaked it up with a fresh baguette ;)
We also had the 2nd dozen of oysters which we bought from the fish markets, which were still just as fresh and delicious as the dozen that we ate earlier in the day
Mussels poached in white wine (Serves 2)
Recipe adapted from Lynne Mullins
1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
200mL white wine
400g can chopped tomatoes
3 sprigs of oregano
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
Crusty bread, to serve (we used pieces of French baguette)
1. Heat oil in a large pot and cook onion and garlic over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add fresh tomatoes and cook until onion and tomatoes are soft.
2. Add white wine and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, oregano, chilli flakes, sugar and tomato paste. Stir well and bring to the boil.
3. Add mussels, then cover and cook on high heat whilst shaking the pot occasionally to distribute heat to the mussels. As soon as the mussels open, use a slotted spoon to remove from the pot and place in a large dish. Discard any mussels that do not open after 5 minutes.
4. Remove pot from the heat and add cream and stir well. Return mussels to pot and stir so that all the mussels are covered in the sauce. Serve immediately with crusty bread.