Mussel is a type of seafood that is usually categorized as mollusks. Unlike other kinds of seafood, mussels are not so common.
Therefore, people are usually skeptical to cook or taste mussels. Most people have no idea what to expect.
Mussels are the kind of seafood that you can never tell how good it is until you have a taste. Mussels come in cute shells and various sizes. They have a natural sea taste that is simply amazing.
We will get into the details of what mussels taste like but first, let us learn about what mussels are and what to expect.
What are Mussels?
As mentioned earlier, the mussel is a type of seafood. Like all seafood, mussels have an intriguing taste thanks to their mysterious nature.
On the face of it, mussels look slimy and attractive. However, you should not be fooled. Mussels have an exclusive taste that is simply amazing.
It is normal to be skeptical about trying out new seafood. I’ll be the first to admit that the uncertainty of what mussels would taste like scared me when I thought of trying them out. But trust me, I do not regret my decision.
Most types of mussels are edible. In fact, you’d be surprised at how famous mussels are. Most seafood restaurants have them on their menu.
Like most sea food, mussels come with shells. Their shells are usually oval-shaped and dark in color. The shells are in a way semi-circular at the top. Mussels are found in both fresh and salty water. In fact, some people have found a way to grow them artificially.
Growing mussels artificially is actually quite easy. You just need to master the art of using ropes to suspend them in water.
There are allegations the name mussels increase its popularity in both sea food lovers and non-sea food lovers. You would be surprised at how many non-seafood lovers actually love mussels. Not liking sea food should not be a reason for you to shun mussels.
How do Mussels Taste?
The taste of mussels may vary slightly depending on how they were harvested. Nonetheless, you may not realize the difference in taste because it is very minor.
So how exactly do mussels taste like? When you take the first bite, you will realize that mussels are chewy. This is unlike other types of sea food which usually have a soft texture. The texture is unique and distinctive.
Most people would describe the taste of mussels as a mild, ocean taste. Mussels do not taste ‘fishy’ as most seafood does.
Mussels also have a natural ocean flavor that caught my attention. Most chefs find the flavor intriguing. The key to enjoying the taste of mussels is choosing the right dip. A dip that complements the natural ocean flavor will always be a winner.
The edible part of mussels is the flesh. The flesh feels soft but it is actually chewy. Most people compare the chewy nature to that of chicken.
There are different types of mussels available. 80% of mussels are edible. A lot of people farm mussels these days. Reports indicate that Europe produces a major portion of mussels.
Here are a few of the most common types of mussels.
- Mediterranean mussels
Mediterranean mussels are quite common. Compared to the other varieties, they have wider shells and are even fleshier. This makes them a favorite of many. This type of mussels is harvested during summer and fall.
- Green lip mussels
Green lip mussels get their name from the green color at the corner of their shells. Like the Mediterranean mussels, they are also large in size with a natural ocean flavor. Green lip mussels are common in New Zealand.
- Blue mussels
Blue mussels are the most common type of mussels. They arguably are the best testing mussels among all the other mussels. Compared to others, they are much smaller in size.
Surprisingly, they are way more expensive than the bigger mussels. This is because the flavor of blue mussels appeals to many.
Other less common types of mussels are rabbit’s foot mussels and zebra mussels.
Should you have concerns about eating mussels for the first time?
Well, as I mentioned before, trying out new sea food is scary to a lot of people, including the foodies. Shell fish is known to have a few drawbacks especially when you are on a diet.
You are probably wondering whether mussels are safe to eat. Various types of shell fish may cause allergies.
Unless you are allergic to shellfish, then you should not worry about eating mussels. Mussels sold in restaurants is safe for consumption. I suggest that you eat mussels from restaurants that are well-known to avoid health complications.
If you are planning on cooking mussels at home, I suggest that you buy them on the same day you want to cook them or the day before. Mussels should not be stored for a long time. Doing so may give you food poisoning.
The best way to store mussels is by wrapping them loosely and storing them inside the fridge. This way, they would breathe from within and not get spoilt.
How to cook mussels?
Like most sea foods, you can cook mussels in different ways depending on your preference. Here are a few ways you can cook mussels.
- Pan roasting
Pan roasting mussels is probably the easiest way to cook them. The process is very straight forward. You don’t need to be a chef to make pan roasted mussels. All you need is a cast-iron skillet.
Pre-heat the skillet then add your mussels. Use salt and pepper to add some flavor to the mussels. You can add any other flavoring of your choice. Toss the mussels around in the skillet until they are ready.
Once the mussels open, they are well cooked. They may not all open at the same time, so I suggest using a pair of tongs to remove the ones that open and give the rest time to open as well. If you remove them before they do, they will be undercooked.
Steaming is another great way to cook mussels. To do this, you will need some wine in addition to the flavorings.
You need to be careful when steaming and not use too much wine. When you use too much wine, the mussels boil instead of steaming.
If you are not a fan of wine, you can use salted water in its place. It will work just fine.
Yes, you can grill mussels. Grilling mussels is quite similar to pan roasting mussels. All you need to do is heat up the grill. Once heated, put the mussels on a cooking grate or on the grill.
Season the mussels with salt and pepper and cook until they open and use tongs to remove them from the grill.
I suggest you serve grilled mayonnaise with mayonnaise or garlic sauce dip.
- As an ingredient
There are a few recipes that call for mussels. Mussels can be used as an ingredient in soup. When used in soup, you simmer them instead of steaming them.
You can also use mussels as an ingredient in pasta. The combination is heavenly. Use steamed mussels when using them as an ingredient in pasta.
Mussels vs Clams
A lot of people confuse mussels for clams. Both of them are mollusks. The two have a similar appearance since they both have oval shaped or semi-circle shells.
However, the two are completely different. For starters, clams are only found in fresh water. On the other hand, mussels are found in both fresh and salty water. Some people even grow them artificially.
Clams have body organs including the circulatory system and the digestive system. In terms of taste, clams have a distinctive salty taste. They also have that fishy taste that most sea food have, though not overpowering.
On the other hand, mussels are soft but chewy with a very mild flavor. They also don’t have that salty and fishy flavor that clams have. If you do you may end up with a dish that you do not like.
The texture of clams and mussels are also very different. Clams have a rubbery chewy texture whereas mussels have a soft chewy texture. Clams can be eaten raw or cooked whereas mussels should be cooked before being eaten.
The shape of the shells of mussels and clams also differ a little bit. Whereas mussel shells are more oval in shape, the ones of clams are kind of spherical.
The shells of clams are divided into two equal parts while those of mussels vary in sizes. Some shells are smaller while others are much bigger.
As seen above, mussels and clams are completely different. Whether cooked or raw, you can easily tell the difference between the two.
Both mussels and clams retain their flavor when cooked so you definitely can’t confuse one for the other. You also should not substitute clams for mussels or vice versa because of the different flavors
One thing that mussels and clams are that they both taste amazing in different ways.