Mussels – The Perfect Summer Food

Mussels are perfect. They are easy to cook and eat, they taste great with a million different flavour combinations, they only take a few measly minutes to prepare and they’re inexpensive. They’re a sustainable shellfish that’s Ocean Wise approved and an excellent source of selenium, B12, zinc and folate. When you think about it, it’s surprising we don’t eat mussels more often. Lobster, crab, shrimp and even clams get more play on our restaurants and our home kitchens it seems.

Tonight is your chance to try some premium PEI mussels prepared by the chefs at the Drake Hotel, for free! That’s right an East Coast Party & Mussel Boil will take place in the Drake’s Secret Garden at 7:30 pm tonight as part of 86’d Mondays. It’s free and open to everyone. Just ask at the front desk for directions to the Secret Garden.

Prince Edward Island’s largest mussel producer, and owner of the award-winning Ship to Shore restaurant, Stephen Stewart of Confederation Cove Mussels, will be in attendance to answer any mussel questions you might have.

According to Wikipedia, mussels are enjoyed in different ways all over the world. Check out all these awesome preparations:

In Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, mussels are consumed with french fries (“mosselen met friet” or “moules frites”) or bread. In Belgium, mussels are often served with fresh herbs and flavorful vegetables in a stock of butter and white wine. In the Netherlands, mussels are sometimes served fried in batter or breadcrumbs, particularly at take-out food outlets or informal settings. In France, the Eclade de Moules is a mussel bake popular along the beaches of the Bay of Biscay.

In Italy, mussels are often mixed with other sea food, or eaten with pasta.

In Spain, they are consumed mostly steam cooked, sometimes boiling white wine, onion and herbs, and served with the remaining water and some lemon. It’s also common eat them as “tigres”, a sort of croquette using the mussel meat, shrimps and other pieces of fish in a thick bechamel, breaded and fried in the clean mussel shell. They are used in other sort of dishes, as rices or soups, or commonly eaten canned in a pickling brine made of oil, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves and paprika.

In Turkey, mussels are either covered with flour and fried on shishs (‘midye tava’), or filled with rice and served cold (‘midye dolma’) and are usually consumed with alcohol (mostly with raki or beer).

They are used in Ireland boiled and seasoned with vinegar, with the “bray” or boiling water as a supplementary hot drink.

In Cantonese cuisine, mussels are cooked in a broth of garlic and fermented black bean. In New Zealand, they are served in a chili or garlic-based vinaigrette, processed into fritters and fried, or used as the base for a chowder. In India, mussels are popular in Kerala, Maharashtra, Bhatkal, and Goa. They are either prepared with drumsticks, breadfruit or other vegetables, or filled with rice and coconut paste with spices and served hot. Fried mussels (‘Kadukka’ in Malayalam) of north Kerala are a spicy, favored delicacy.

It’s time to give mussels some love. They are a great dish anytime of year, but especially in the summer. They can be eaten informally out on the deck and all you need to accompany them is lots of cold beer, white wine, a big green salad and some fresh bread.

Here are a number of excellent recipes to try. Whether you steam them in white wine, curry them in coconut milk or fry them with fermented black beans, make a big pot of mussels soon.

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