Mussels are very forgiving to cook. They come with a built in timer. When they open, they’re done. It’s really that easy.
These mussels cook up in no time flat and are bathed in a fragrant, gingery broth made with shallots, butter, and stout. Serve with a crusty loaf of garlic bread to sop up all that heavenly broth.
How to buy fresh mussels: Food safety tips
Now, I’m not a food safety expert, but here’s what I do when I buy mussels and clams.
To start, I buy them on the day I’m going to cook them. If it’s warm out, stash them on ice in a cooler to transport them. Keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to pop them in the pot. The main thing? Keep them cold.
Always use all your common senses when selecting raw seafood. Buy from a fish market or grocer that you trust. (Ideally, the shop should sell a lot of seafood, so you know they turn their stock over rapidly.)
Talk to the folks behind the fish counter and ask them where their mussels came from.
Like fresh clams, mussels are alive when you buy them, so they should always be kept on ice. If they’re pre-packaged in a little net, they likely have a label with a packing date on it. Be sure to check it.
Oh, and if they stink like fish? Run away from them as fast as you can.
Once you’ve bought your mussels, the main thing you need to do is weed through them to ensure that each mussel is intact and alive. This is pretty easy, since you’re going to scrub them before they go into the pot. You can inspect as you go. More on what to look for below.
Throw out a raw mussel if it:
+Is open and doesn’t close tightly when tapped with a finger
+Is cracked or chipped
Never eat a cooked mussel if it:
+Doesn’t open when cooked (that means it was dead when it went in the pot)
Mussels in Ginger Stout Broth
2 lbs. mussels
1 small-ish finger fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
1/2 shallot, diced
2 Tbls. butter
1 can Guinness (14.9 oz.) or other stout you like
1 clove garlic, mashed
Serves 2 generously as a main course, and about 3-5 as an appetizer.
Mussels in Ginger Stout Broth: Prep the mussels
Mussel shells can be kind of grubby when you get them.
Give each mussel a good scrubbing under cold water with a stiff brush.
As you scrub each one, keep an eye out for any mussels that may still have a beard attached, like this one. (Most of the time, these are already removed when you buy them.)
If you see a little bit of plant life sticking out of the mussel like this, just yank it out with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
Like I said, mussels are alive when you buy them.
This means that if you find an open mussel in your batch and tap it, it should close tightly almost immediately. If it doesn’t, your mussel is dead and you should toss it. (You’ll probably find maybe 2 or 3 like this. A lot more than that, and I’d let the store know.)
When in doubt, throw it out.
You should also toss any mussels that are cracked or chipped, like this:
When your mussels are scrubbed, stick them back in the fridge in a bowl for a few minutes while you whip up the broth.
Mussels in Ginger Stout Broth: Make the broth
Break off a smallish finger of ginger.
Slice the peel off the ginger.
Then cut the ginger into matchsticks.
Cut your shallot in half then dice it.
Set a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter. When it starts to melt, toss in the ginger and shallots.
Stir to coat with butter and saute for a few minutes.
You want to cook them until the shallot starts to turn translucent.
When it does, pour in the stout. I used Guinness (big surprise, I know). Toss in the garlic.
Give the pot a stir.
Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes.
Mussels in Ginger Stout Broth: Cook the mussels
After about 5 minutes, grab your mussels out of the fridge. Add them to the boiling broth.
When all the mussels are in the pot, drop the heat to medium. Give the pot a stir to coat the mussels.
Cover the pot tightly. Simmer the mussels like this for 4-5 minutes, until they open up.
Mussels in Ginger Stout Broth: Plate and serve
With a skimmer, transfer the mussels to your serving bowl.
If you see any mussels that didn’t open, throw them out.
Pour the hot broth over the mussels.
Garnish with chopped chives.