Many people are put off with the idea of preparing and cooking mussels. It can be quite time consuming especially if you’ve got a bunch of sandy, barnacle covered, hairy buggers. However, as long as they are alive and fresh, you’re guaranteed a fabulous mussel dish after. It’s worth it, really!
To ensure that you do not end up with a dodgy shellfish, make sure you chuck out any broken ones and those that refuse to budge when it’s gapingly open and you try to close it back.
Soak the mussels in clean water for about 20 minutes – this is so they can happily spit out the sand for you (they’re really cooperative that way). To remove the beard, grab the fibrous bits and yank it towards the hinge of the shell and not towards the opening – doing it this way ensures that you do not tear the mussel, thus killing it. If there are barnacles and other marine bits attached on the shell, simply scrub it with a brush or wire wool.
Mussels are a joy to cook with. And to eat, of course. Chilli mussels are my favourite. A very simple way to cook them is to have some aromatics like garlic and ginger, and you can use fresh cut chillies but I like to use a very tasty and spicy chilli oil which I bought from an Oriental supermarket. The chilli oil is slightly salted, so I didn’t have to use any salt or fish sauce. Fry the aromatics in a hot wok, spoon in some fiery chilli, toss in the mussels and coat them with the garlicky chilli, add a little water, cover the wok and voila! Once the mussels are opened, they’re ready. Zippy and yummy…and the sauce is amazing even though I didn’t add any seasoning except for the chilli – happens just like magic!