WHY WE LOVE FRESH WEST COAST MUSSELS
-Karen van Tonder
West Coast mussels are picked fresh off the nets. They should smell pleasantly of the sea, avoid any that smell fishy.
Buying 5kg not only saves money but you’ll have stock in your freezer for when you need them.
The preparation, cooking and freezing procedure is very simple.
Ideally, you want to prepare and cook the mussels as soon after buying as possible but they can stay fresh for a few days in the fridge.
Remove them from the plastic bag and store them in a dry bowl or container, covered with a damp tea towel. Never cover with a lid or clingfilm as they will suffocate.
To prepare the mussels for cooking:
Rinse them under cold running water, tossing them over with your hands.
Pinch and tug away the stringy thread from the side of the shell known as the ‘beard’. Use pliers or a dull knife to make it easier.
Rinse your mussels in a colander. You could scrub the shell if you want to get fancy but I’ve never bothered.
In a large pot, cover the bottom with white wine. If you’re going to keep the stock, add herbs, garlic etc. to your liking.
Bring the wine to boil and add your mussels filling the pot half way.
Place the lid on and give the mussels 3 minutes, 4 if not open. Do not overcook.
If you want to play it safe, throw away the unopened ones but in all the years I’ve bought them, I’ve never done that and I’ve never been ill. I was once told that a dead mussel smells horrendous and you’ll smell it when removing the beard. True story.
Remove your mussels from the pot and let cool. Add your next batch to the pot and repeat.
Place your cooled mussels in portions in freezer bags. The stock should be filtered and frozen as well.
Now here is the interesting part. Did you know that freezing these cooked mussels has no impact on the flavour or texture? Defrost in the fridge overnight and use fresh or add to your favourite dish.
WARNING! You’ll never eat big brand frozen mussels again.