Restaurant Quality Mussels
Boiled mussels in copper pan on the wooden table.

Restaurant Quality Mussels

Today I’ll go over some tips on how to make restaurant quality mussels.

We love eating out at restaurants. It’s not just because someone else is cooking and we’re getting served. But there’s something about the flavor that’s difficult to recreate in the home.

Or we think it is.  Usually, they’re using a lot of butter. And I do mean a ton of it.

The second is that they use good quality ingredients.

Choosing the Mussels

Unlike clams, some mussels are open when you purchase them, and they’re alive. They should close quickly when you touch them.  If not, they’re dead and should be tossed.

After cooking, if a mussel hasn’t opened, it’s dead, so go ahead and toss it as well.

Shells should be intact with no signs of cracks or chips.

Mussels are delicious, cheap, fast to prepare and very satisfying.

Mistakes to Avoid

There are some pretty simple steps for making good mussels.  Make sure you don’t make these mistakes.

Not cleaning your mussels

We talked about removing the beard in a previous post where I made mussels and clams with linguine. Scrape off any barnacles you see with a paring knife. And rinse them off well.  I prefer soaking in salt water for awhile as well.

Add in aromatics

This really helps develop the flavor for the broth. You want to use chopped onion, garlic, shallots ginger, or a mixture.

Alcohol adds flavor

Using a crisp white wine or lager will infuse flavor into the mussels and make the broth lovely. If you don’t want to use alcohol, use something else like coconut milk or chopped tomatoes in juice. Don’t just use water.

Always Simmer

You want to slowly cook the mussels using a simmer and never a boil. Simmering is when there’s small bubbles coming up. Boiling is larger bubbles.

See more in this video with Jamie Oliver

Remember the herbs

I love using fresh thyme and parsley in my mussels. It’s also wonderful with dill, cilantro, and tarragon. Rosemary and sage wouldn’t be good choices as they’re more woody flavors and you want to appreciate the brininess of the mussels.

Some people also love adding in hot pepper flakes.

Move Them Around

Gently shake the pan to move the mussels around.  You can stir but don’t be constantly in there moving them around.  Some people prefer to put a lid on the pan thinking that the shellfish will cook faster.  In a professional kitchen, they rarely have time to find lids and the mussels cook just fine.  So you can use a lid but you don’t have to.  And gently move them around but don’t be too rough.

And you can finish up the disk with just a little butter to add a lovely depth to the broth.

Serving Them

I like them steamed with the broth and fresh herbs over the top. I’ll also make a salad with a vinaigrette dressing. I also love some crusty bread to dip into the broth.

You can slice the French bread thinly and toast it. Then rub a garlic clove over it. It’s the perfect accompaniment to your meal. And you will be satisfied with less.