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How to Prepare, Cook, and Pair with Mussels

cooked mussels

Shellfish and white wine make a classic pair. Add to your kitchen skills with simple steps that help you learn how to cook, prepare, and build the perfect meal around mussels.

Pairing

A chardonnay that's been partially fermented and aged in stainless steel offers the weightiness you seek in winter, yet also possesses a fresh, bright character that complements this dish well. Try Clos du Bois Chardonnay.

Selecting

Live mussels should have a fresh scent. The shells should be clean, unbroken, moist and, for the most part, tightly closed. (Any shells that gape slightly should close after you lightly tap them. Discard any that remain open.)

Storing

Cover live mussels with a moist cloth and refrigerate in an open container for 1-2 days.

Preparing

preparing mussels to be cookedUse a stiff brush to scrub the shells of the live mussels under cold running water. Pull out beards—stringy fibers between the shells—that may be present. To remove the beard, hold the mussel in one hand. Cover the other hand in a paper towel and grab hold of the beard. Sharply pull toward the mussel's hinged edge to remove; discard. Soak as directed in the recipe below or in your favorite mussels recipe.

Cooking

As the mussels steam, they’ll release liquids that boost the volume and flavor of the cooking liquid, which becomes a luscious broth. Avoid overcooking, as they can shrink and toughen. Discard any mussels that do not open after cooking.

Serving

Serve with a seafood fork for pulling the meat from the shells. Or use an empty shell as your utensil—maneuver it like large tweezers.

Suggested Recipe

Mussels with Fennel and White Wine
Delicate additions, including fennel and mild Italian parsley, subtly enhance the mild flavor of the mussels in this dish.