A Steaming Pot of Gold
Legend has it that anyone who captures a leprechaun can force it to reveal the location of his fortune, which is kept in a pot of gold. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 by cooking up a steaming pot of gold – leprechaun comes separately.
“Rated as ‘Super Green’ by Seafood Watch and naturally rich in nutrients, create your own pot of gold with steamed Canadian fresh cultivated blue mussels,” says Linda Duncan, Executive Director of the Mussel Industry Council. For an added Irish flare, go for a green curry or pesto sauce, or, for a more traditional feel, try Cream Sauce Beer and Garlic Steamed Mussels.” A steaming pot of mussels is a treasure chest indeed. Practically un-coaxed, the dark blue shell opens up to reveal golden meat high in Omega 3s, low in fat (2.2 g fat per 100 g mussel meat) and packed with protein. Mussels are also recognized world-wide as sustainable seafood – they feed naturally with no additives and their seed is also collected naturally from the environment where they are grown.
“Mussels are grown in all corners of the world,” explains Duncan. “They are part of many cultures’ cuisines and have been for thousands of years. Affordable, healthy and delicious, mussels add to the atmosphere of cultural celebrations.”
What to look for
• The shell is primarily a blackish colour with bluish highlights and has an elongated triangular shape.
• Mussels are traditionally sold fresh in the shell, which should close tightly when tapped.
How to store
• Store them in the shell in the coolest part of your refrigerator for five to eight days.
• Cover with a damp cloth or wet newspaper. They should not be stored in an airtight container or in water.
• The less mussels are disturbed, the longer they will remain alive; therefore, the time to clean them is just before cooking.
• Cooked mussels may be frozen by placing the shucked meats in plastic containers and covering them with a brine solution of 5 ml (1 tsp) salt to 250 ml (1 cup) of water. Allow 1 cm ( 1/2 inch) head space for expansion during freezing. Mussels frozen in this state will store for three to four months.
•Rinse the shells under cool running water. Remove the byssus threads (a bundle of brown fibres found between the two shells of the mussel) by cutting them with scissors or pulling them out with a quick tug.
• Steam them over medium heat for five to seven minutes or until the shells open. Because mussels contain liquid, which comes out during the steaming process, adding liquid isn’t necessary.
• Add vegetables such as carrots, celery or onion for extra flavour.
• Mussels can easily be prepared in the microwave. Just place the mussels on a shallow pan, add 50 ml ( 1/4 cup) hot water and cook at a high temperature for four to five minutes.
• As an appetizer, allow 10 to 12 mussels per person (about 250 g/ 1/2 lb).
• As a main course, allow 20 to 25 mussels per person (about 500 g/1 lb). For 250 ml (1 cup) of cooked shucked mussel meats, allow 20 to 25 mussels.