Mussels is a delicious type of shellfish that speaks of class and finery, yet surprisingly easy to prepare. It can make a great addition to your menu, but you’ll need to be careful where you get them and when. As easy as mussels are to make, keeping them fresh is another matter.
Below, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about keeping fresh mussels in the restaurant kitchen that are ready to be cooked and served.
Making Sure Your Mussels are Fresh
It is absolutely imperative that your mussels are fresh at the time of cooking. Like most shellfish, mussels go bad incredibly fast and can cause extreme sickness if gone bad. Mussels should be cooked while still alive to ensure freshness and edibility.
Find the Right Supplier
Before you can start making drool-worthy mussel dishes, you first need to find a proper supplier. Ensure that your mussels are freshly caught and still alive. If your restaurant is located on the coast this shouldn’t be too difficult, but if located inland be sure to be extra careful.
How to Tell if Mussels are Good or Bad
Telling whether your mussels are good or bad is actually quite simple—you just need to check if they’re still alive. The mussels should be firmly and completely shut, indicating they’re alive. If you see a mussel slightly ajar, tap its shell. If it closes, it’s still alive and good to use. If not, the mussel is dead and cannot be used.
Also check each individual mussel for cracks, chips, or other openings. If you find any, the mussel is dead and cannot be used.
It is very important to check each mussel to see if it’s alive and good for cooking. It only takes one bad mussel to cause a severe case of food poisoning—which will reflect poorly on your restaurant.
You may want to consider allowing your customers the option of inspecting your mussel collection, and perhaps even the option of selecting the mussels that are to be prepared for them. Many diners are often weary of ordering mussels from restaurants, so allowing them to inspect your mussel collections is a great way to establish trust and brand.
How to Properly Store Mussels and Maintain Freshness
When storing live mussels, you need to ensure that they are both cool and damp. A great way to do this is place them in an unsealed container with a damp cloth over them in the refrigerator. Do notplace them in a sealed container or submerge them in water. The mussels need to be able to breath—otherwise, they will die.
To ensure your mussels are as fresh as possible, you typically want to serve them the day they are purchased and brought in. It is possible, however, to keep mussels fresh and alive in this way for a few days.
Always make sure to check each mussel before cooking.
Can You Use Frozen Mussels?
Mussels should only be frozen after they have been cooked from fresh. It is recommended, though, that you only serve fresh mussels to your diners. If you order frozen mussels from a supplier, there is no way to know that they were fresh and alive when they were initially cooked.
Preparing Mouthwatering Mussels
Cleaning Your Mussels
Before you toss your fresh mussels into the frying pan, you’ll first need to clean them.
Many mussels have a “beard” of byssal threads. To remove these, grasp the mussel in one hand and the beard in the other, giving it a sharp yank. Don’t pull the beard toward the opening end—this could tear the mussel and kill it.
To release excess sand, soak the mussels for a period of approximately 20 minutes, during which time the sand will naturally disperse. Remove the mussels.
Depending on your supplier, you may purchase pre-cleaned mussels.
Traditional Preparation Styles
Once you have a collection of clean and fresh mussels, it’s finally time to prepare them. All you have to do is steam them in a dry pan until they give off a fragrant liqueur. Many like to add white wine to add extra flavor.
Only Offer the Best
Mussels are tasty and will make a great addition to any menu. As long as you consistently check for freshness, your mussels will quickly become one of your restaurant’s greatest assets.