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January 2007

How To Cook Mussels - Recipe With White Wine

Mussels are very tasty and inexpensive seafood. Their delicate taste can be best enjoyed as an appetizer or in a pasta, as a main dish. If you have tried mussels in a restaurant you either had a great experience or a totally bad one. This largely depends on the cooking skills of the chef who prepared them. I have seen a lot of chefs who don't know the proper cooking techniques for mussels.

This shouldn't prevent you from giving mussels a try in your own kitchen. It is actually quite easy. All you need to know is how to buy mussels, the correct timing and temperatures and to choose your favorite recipe. The instructions below are my own personal experience from cooking mussels for many years as a restaurant chef.



How To Buy Mussels?

- When buying mussels you have to really make sure that they are fresh. Mussels should be kept over crushed ice in the store. They have to be closed, and if there are some opened ones, they should close promptly when tapped. Inspect the tag on the bag for the harvest date. The harvest date of the mussels should ideally be no more than 2-3 days prior to purchase.

Cleaning the mussels before cooking.

- Rinse the mussels thoroughly with cold water and pull all the barnacles (also called "beards") that they might have. Don't soak the fresh mussels in fresh water, as it may kill them. If you buy frozen mussels the only thing you need to do is dip them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes before cooking, then proceed the same way as though using fresh mussels.

How to cook the mussels.

- Mussels can be cooked in many different ways, but I think that the most simple way to cook them is also the most delicious. I like to cook mussels in either garlic and white wine sauce or tomato-marinara.

Cooking mussels in garlic and white wine: Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy pan at high temperature. You should start with very hot oil. Add a teaspoon of chopped garlic and saute it for 1 minute. Add the mussels and saute until all of them are open. Discard any unopened mussels. It is very important to not overfill the pan, because the liquid from the mussels start boiling instead of sauteing. Deglaze the pan with 1/3 cup white wine. You have to pour the wine when your pan is very hot. If you are cooking on a gas stove your pan may catch fire. This is ok, as long as you are careful not to burn your eyelashes. Cook until half of the liquid in your pan evaporates, then season the mussels to taste with sea salt and pepper, and add chopped parsley, fresh basil and chili flakes.

Cooking mussels in tomato-marinara sauce: Do everything as the recipe above, but add some sliced leaks and 1 cup of tomato sauce in the pan and cook it for about 5 minutes more.

The following are some of my recipes with the use of mussels, that I have posted on this website:

Penne With Mussels In White Wine Sauce - made with olive oil, garlic and chardonnay.

Mussels Marinara - a delicious Italian appetizer called "cozze".

Linguine With Mussels - mussels with tomato sauce and linguine noodles.

Oriental Mussels Recipe - cilantro, ginger, garlic, vegetables and white wine.

Spaghetti Frutti di Mare - seafood spaghetti with mussels and other seafood.

Seafood Risotto With Mussels - Italian risotto with shrimp, scallops and mussels.

Mussels in Half Shell Recipe - mussels with turmeric, tarragon and cream cheese.


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Chef George Krumov
About the author: George Krumov is a Red Seal certified chef with many years of culinary experience working around the world in Europe, the Middle East, the cruise line industry and North America. In the last two decades he has headed the kitchens of several restaurants in Canada, and ran his own restaurant.

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