Mussels are one of the most misunderstood shellfish out there. But they are also one of the tastiest!
Serving a large bowl of freshly-grilled mussels with a side of freshly-grilled crusty bread is a real show stopper, and one of my favorite appetisers along side cold smoked salmon!
Mussels are cheap, easy to cook, and damn tasty! In this post, I’m going to clear up some of the most common questions about mussels. I will also give you my super easy, super delicious recipe for grilled mussels, using nothing but your traditional grill!
How many mussels per person?
If you’re planning 1 or 2 other appetizers before dinner, about 1/4 pound of mussels per person, that’s 4-6 medium mussels. if you are only having mussels as the appetizer aim for around 12 mussels per guest with two thick slices of crusty bread.
How to choose and clean mussels
Choose only tightly closed, full shells; remove any broken, chipped, damaged, or open shells. Soak for 20 minutes in freshwater. The sand and salt will fall away as the mussels breathe. Some of the mussels may have byssal threads, or “beards,” that show up after being soaked. Pull the beards towards the hinge (not towards the opening) and pull out any hanging threads.
How long does it take to grill mussels?
Cooking will take 5 to 10 minutes on a medium-high temperature grill. I highly recommend closing the lid on your grill or finding a cover to cover the mussels. This will help steam the mussels and cook them faster.
How to set your grill to medium-high
You should be able to hold your hand about an inch over the cooking rack for 2 to 3 seconds before pulling it away from the heat. Or if you are using a gas or electric grill set the knobs to halfway.
How do you tell me when the mussels are done?
Always wait until the mussel opens. This should take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Discard the ones that do not open.
Some people like their mussels just barely cooked, they’re still soft and tender. Whereas others prefer grilled mussels until they’re almost smoked, with the flesh slightly tougher and almost crunchy on the edges.
Different people enjoy different doneness and cooking times, however, you must cook them at least until their shells open.
What are the health benefits of mussels?
Mussels are one of the most well-rounded foods to be included in your diet. They are high in zinc and iron. As well as other minerals, vitamins A and B12. Mussels are a fantastic protein source, low in calories and low in fat.
What is a black mussel?
A Black mussel is a common name for several mussels, however, most commonly people are usually referring to Choromytilus meridionalis, a species of mussel only found along the southern African coast. Most common from central Namibia to Port Elizabeth.
What are the hairs on the mussels?
If you use wild mussels, these may have hairy growths, commonly called ‘beards’ that need to be removed. The beards are harmless but have a strange taste and texture. To remove the beard simply hold the mussel and pull the beard towards the hinge of the mussel
What happens if I eat unopened or dead mussels?
Eating dead or unopened mussels will result in you being very sick or getting ‘seafood poisoning’. Which is nasty and in some cases deadly.
Often you will have diarrhea, vomiting, and in most cases a combination of the two. These symptoms will soon be followed by strange sensations that may include numbness or tingling in your mouth, headache, dizziness, and a reversal of hot and cold temperatures.
If you think you might have digested a dead or unopened mussel consult your doctor asap.
Where to buy the mussels?
You can buy mussels frozen, fresh, or marinated. I highly recommend fresh or marinated.
Most fishmongers and good supermarkets will have fresh mussels.
When buying mussels the fresher the better.
How to Make Grilled Mussels on the Grill
Grilled Mussels Recipe
- Gas or charcoal bbq
- Large pot or sink with a plug
- 48 Fresh mussels
- Sea salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Choose only tightly closed, full shells in good condition. Remove any broken, chipped, damaged, or open shells before cooking.
- Preheat your gas or coal barbecue to medium-high heat.
- While your grill preheats, soak the mussels for 20 minutes in fresh water. The sand grit and salt will fall away as the mussels breathe and filter the freshwater. Some of the mussels may have byssal threads, or "beards," that show up after being soaked. Pull the beards towards the hinge and pull out any hanging threads.
- Put the cleaned mussels on the hot grill and cover. Try not to open the cover for at least 5 minutes. At 5 minutes open to check how they are cooking. Remove any mussels with tongs that have opened.
- Continue this process for the next 5 or so minutes or until all mussels have opened. After 10 minutes discard any mussels that have not opened.
- Garnish with fresh lemon wedges, parsley, cilantro, fresh-cut chili, sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with a side of grilled crusty fresh bread. Serve and enjoy