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Generally, peak season for fresh mussels is from October to March – this is when the taste and quality of meat is best, before they begin spawning in spring and summer.
With warmer weather comes “red tides” – periods of massive reproduction of plankton that can give the sea waters in which they occur a reddish tint. Mussels are filter-feeders and thus are vulnerable to bacterial pollution, chemical contamination, and toxins spread by red tides.
There is a common lore that states we should only be eating mussels (and other shellfish like clams and oysters) in months with the letter “R”. These days, with sea temperatures continuing to rise, it’s probably safer to purchase your mussels from a certified shellfish dealer.
Recipe courtesy of Clara Van Hemelrijck
Tips on buying and preparing:
* Ask where the mussels were grown or harvested.
* Live mussels should be tightly closed, with a fresh smell.
* To clean mussels, scrub in plenty of cold water to remove barnacles or sand. Discard any mussels with open or broken shells.
* Give any open mussels a sharp tap with a knife and discard any that fail to close (they are dead)
* Place cleaned mussels in a fresh bowl of cold water until ready to use. Change this water two or three times to remove any salt or sand that the mussels may expel.
* Discard any mussels that do not open after cooking.
For herb mix
- Fresh coriander
- Fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- Blend coriander, parsley, garlic, olive oil and vinegar in a food processor.
- Clean the mussels and briefly steam them until they open. Remove the empty shells and put the shell with mussel on an ovenproof tray.
- Spoon some of the herb mix on every mussel and grill for a few minutes.
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