Slow Cooker Mussels in Tomato and Fennel Sauce | Food styling by Michael Elliott | Prop styling by Jennifer Evans Image by: James Tse
A popular dish in restaurants, mussels are often perceived as too fiddly to prepare at home. In fact, they’re easy to clean and take less than 10 minutes to cook.
1. Most mussels sold in Canadian supermarkets are farm-raised. Look for the symbol of approval from Ocean Wise.
2. When shopping, look for mussels nestled in plenty of ice to keep them fresh. Buy ones with tightly closed shells or those that snap shut when tapped. They should appear shiny and wet. Avoid those that look dried out— they may have died or been improperly stored.
3. If not cooking right away, remove mussels from the mesh bag and store loose in a bowl to collect juices; cover with a clean damp towel. Drain liquid daily. Refrigerate for up to three days.
4. When ready to cook, give mussels a sniff. They should smell fresh and salty, like the ocean. Scrub mussels under cold running water. If necessary, trim beards (the fibre-like membranes that protrude from shells) by grasping and pulling toward the hinged edge.
Here are some delicious mussel recipes to try:
Homemade tomato sauce takes time to develop flavour, so it's smart to use prepared sauce on weeknights. To check your mussels for freshness, tap the shells to make sure they close, and discard any that don't. Once cooked, the shells should open; discard any that remain closed. Serve with a crusty baguette for soaking up the fragrant broth.
While you don't want to overwhelm seafood with too much spice, these mussels can take a hit of curry because the creamy sauce tempers the heat. Serve with crusty bread for sopping up the delicious broth.
Mussels are readily available year round in most grocery stores. PEI has an excellent reputation for harvesting the delicious mollusks—you'll see PEI mussels sold all across North America, even as far south and west as Hawaii.
Island chef Gordon Bailey wowed crowds with this impressive appetizer at the 2011 Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival. It is a showstopper in terms of looks, but it's really a snap to make. The aioli features raw egg yolks, so use organic eggs, if possible, or substitute 1 cup light mayonnaise for the egg yolks and oil, adding the other aioli ingredients according to the recipe.
Slow-simmering this sauce all day creates a flavourful base for cooking the mussels. The high setting on your slow cooker is great for steaming mussels without running the risk of overcooking them. This dish makes a great main for two or a starter for four. Serve with crusty bread, if desired.