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Old 04-14-2014, 07:36 PM   #1
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Mussels--- how to get the plumpest ones

----- if that's possible. RockLobster just posted a pic of mussels (still drooling).

I bought some mussels last week from Fisherman's Shack (they're actually fishermen and the seafood is always fresh until they say it's previously frozen.

The mussels were great but the were small-ish compared to some I had in a nice restaurant here which were very plump. Is that just the 'season'? Did I cook them right or too long?

Any opinions?
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Old 04-14-2014, 07:47 PM   #2
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Wild mussels are usually a lot bigger than the cultivated ones. A lot of places carry the cultivated ones, but fish markets usually have both. The wild ones are more expensive but worth it. As far as size, you never know what you are going to get inside, but generally, the bigger the mussel shell, the bigger the mussel inside. Let your ingredients boil a bit to get maximum flavor and concentration of juice before adding the mussels. They do shrink and get tougher the longer they steam so you have to pull them right after they open. They may seem a little under done, but they keep cooking in their own steam from the juice as they sit in the pot or on your plate. Like a lot of meat, they are ok to eat a bit underdone. I would rather eat one a bit underdone than an overdone one.....

One rule I learned while living in Italy was you never eat mussels during months with no "R" in it. So, basically, you don't eat them from May to the beginning of September.
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Old 04-14-2014, 08:22 PM   #3
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I saw Rock's pic a minute ago too in the Dinner thread and thought, I bet I haven't had mussels in about 3 years! or Too long to remember.

I'm pasting the Pic again, in case someone sees this thread later and doesn't know what we are talking about. Good it is. ( drat. the pic doesn't enlarge like the original. sorry)
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:21 AM   #4
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I use the PEI rope grown type. I get them at Costco. We have little in the way of seafood markets in these parts.
They are fairly consistent in size, but a bit smaller last time I bought some.
They were very good either way.
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:08 PM   #5
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I remember as a kid, bringing home a bucket of mussels. I would pick them off the rocks at Short Beach and we would have them for supper. We would wait until the high tide was just starting to go out. As the rocks came into view we would start picking them then. Mussels at that time were considered trash food that only poor people would eat. We weren't poor and we loved them. Mussels, clams, and lobsters were our summer fare every year.
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:21 PM   #6
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I think, but would have to check, that wild caught mussels aren't allowed to be sold here in OR. But I think, have to check, that you can gather them yourself (which I'm certainly not able to do!). Of course not in months with R in them.

I may have cooked my mussels a bit too long and shrunk them a little. Plus they were probably small to start with. But they still were good. Next time I'll take them out when just first opening and 'al dente' and let them finish.

The broth was great just to drink later on.

My mind went wandering again: "What warnings do foreign countries have about months with R in them for shell fish?"

Well, in case you're wondering---- a lot of the European countries have R's in the same month as we (U.S.) do.

EXCEPT Italian---- the word for January is gennaio

And what about Russia? Oh, dear!
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:52 PM   #7
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I grew up right next to the Atlantic Ocean. We ate shellfish all summer long. R or no R. Grant you, most of them are in the growing phase at that time, but you pick the largest ones you can find. I hate summer lobsters though. Their meat is sweeter in the summer, but it is the time of their molting and they are filled with salt water. They don't start to harden up until the ocean temps start on the downward slide.
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:27 PM   #8
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When I was a kid, growing up in California, we always saw lots of mussels when we went to the beach. I was told you couldn't eat them.
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:29 PM   #9
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When I was a kid, growing up in California, we always saw lots of mussels when we went to the beach. I was told you couldn't eat them.
When I was a student living on the coast of North Wales in the late 1960s, early 1970s, the local mussels were off limits due to some sort of algae (red?) that was poisoning them and making them unsafe for humans to eat.

Of course, they have to be living in safe, clean water otherwise they can make you poorly. Most mussels you buy in the UK are farmed for that reason
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:40 PM   #10
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That makes sense, but I was told "You can't eat mussels."
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:49 PM   #11
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When I was a student living on the coast of North Wales in the late 1960s, early 1970s, the local mussels were off limits due to some sort of algae (red?) that was poisoning them and making them unsafe for humans to eat.

Of course, they have to be living in safe, clean water otherwise they can make you poorly. Most mussels you buy in the UK are farmed for that reason
When we are about to get hit with the red tide, we get plenty of warning via the television and newspapers. Here, it usually starts up in Maine and works it way down the coast. It only lasts a couple of weeks. It doesn't come every year.
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:50 PM   #12
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Red algae, bad stuff. It will kill a dog that goes swimming in it.
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:08 PM   #13
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Red algae, bad stuff. It will kill a dog that goes swimming in it.

They close the beaches here. We get ample warning. In fact if you are one who listens to the early morning news, it will be their lead story. At 5 am, 5:30 am, 6 am, etc. right up to nine am. Then again at noon and 6 pm.
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:22 AM   #14
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We haven't had red tide in awhile , have we?
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:39 AM   #15
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We haven't had red tide in awhile , have we?
We can probably thank hurricanes for that.
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:04 AM   #16
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We haven't had red tide in awhile , have we?
No, we didn't get it last summer.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:11 PM   #17
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I think, but would have to check, that wild caught mussels aren't allowed to be sold here in OR. But I think, have to check, that you can gather them yourself (which I'm certainly not able to do!). Of course not in months with R in them.

I may have cooked my mussels a bit too long and shrunk them a little. Plus they were probably small to start with. But they still were good. Next time I'll take them out when just first opening and 'al dente' and let them finish.

The broth was great just to drink later on.

My mind went wandering again: "What warnings do foreign countries have about months with R in them for shell fish?"

Well, in case you're wondering---- a lot of the European countries have R's in the same month as we (U.S.) do.

EXCEPT Italian---- the word for January is gennaio

And what about Russia? Oh, dear!
First. I have found mussels are well suited for longer cooking times. In fact, I wait until they are completely open. All of them in the pot. They seem to stay tender even then.

I too bought into the "R" thing. I know do not use this as my guide to shellfish anymore.
The "R" idea it seems comes from the eating of raw oysters and clams.
If you are cooking them, it would not matter at all. Even if there was some science to prove the "R" is actually true.

I now eat raw oysters and clams year round with no negative results.
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:50 PM   #18
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I now eat raw oysters and clams year round with no negative results.
Are those ones bought in the store or do you 'pick' your own? They sell in stores year round?
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:59 PM   #19
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From HowStuffWorks "Types of Shellfish Poisoning" :

Quote:
Dinoflagellates sometimes consume toxic alkaloids called saxitoxins. The type of saxitoxin the dinoflagellate consumes determines what type of shellfish poisoning you'll receive at your lofty position atop the food chain.

The bad news is that once a shellfish becomes toxic, no amount of heat during cooking will destroy the bacteria. Because of this, you should definitely not harvest your own shellfish during months with an "R" in them, especially along the Pacific Coast. This activity is banned in the state of California (and restricted elsewhere) between May and October because the toxin responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning is more prevalent during those months. Generally speaking, however, the major downside to summertime oysters is the disappointment you may feel upon eating them -- bivalves reproduce in the summertime and most of their energy goes toward this endeavor, leaving the meat somewhat scrawny.

The good news is that precautions taken during the raising and harvesting of commercial shellfish make them safe to eat any time of the year. So long as your shellfish has been commercially harvested and no advisories have been issued by state governments or the U.S. Department of Health, you should rest easy knowing your shellfish is safe to enjoy.
Shellfish are available year-round here. We don't catch our own, although we could put out crab pots if we wanted to.
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Old 04-17-2014, 11:36 AM   #20
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Gee, if Boston didn't have fish and shellfish available year round, we would all die off. The fishmongers in this city just love Lent. And we have always ignored the old wives fish tale of the "R" factor. In spite of the church's edict many years ago about eating meat on Friday, there are many families that still live by the old rules. And if you go to Mass on Sunday, you will see many of the old timers who still have and use their old family missals that are in Latin.

I have heard the "R" story as to never eat shellfish unless there is an "R" in the month and also without one. Take your pick. I ignore both.
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