Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

  • About
Healthy mussels should be tightly closed and free of cracks or breaks. If any mussels are slightly open, using your thumb and forefinger, push the shells sideways; if the shell closes the mussel is alive and healthy, if not, discard it. Using a small, sharp knife, carefully scrape off any barnacles, grit, or seaweed that cling to the shells. Do not remove the beard (the byssal threads by which the mussel suspends itself in the water) until just before using or the mussels will die and be rendered unusuable. If very sandy, mussels may be soaked in cold, salted water for a couple of hours; however, many chefs believe that this soaking results in loss of flavor. If cultivated, the mussels are usually quite clean and the soaking is not necessary. If soaked, drain well and place in a bowl or mesh bag, cover with a damp towel, and refrigerate until ready to use but for no longer than a couple of days.