Skip the Gym, Get Your Mussels at Home Instead

Why pay big bucks for an appetizer in a restaurant? Make delicious steamed mussels for a fraction of the cost in your own kitchen.

"I'm on a seafood diet.  I see food and I eat it."  ~Author Unknown

I was not a fan of seafood until recently. The most I would eat was shrimp cocktail or a tunafish sandwich (which hardly classifies as seafood to most folks.) That was until my husband and I went to an inn one weekend that was serving steamed mussels as an appetizer. I threw caution to the wind and gave them a try. I have been hooked ever since.

Not only are mussels delicious but they are also considered a "power food" since they are an excellent source of protein and have more iron and vitamin B12 than beef. They are also very easy to prepare and relatively inexpensive. I use a very basic recipe of steaming the mussels in butter, white wine, shallots and garlic.

Before I get into the recipe let me share with you how to clean mussels, if you have never done so.

First, you want to make sure that you unwrap them as soon as you get home so they can breathe. You want to throw away any that are chipped, broken or open. (Though you can leave the open ones on the counter for a few minutes to see if they will close up again. If they don't, chuck 'em.)

Just before you are going to cook them you should soak the mussels in fresh cold water for about 20 minutes. Then you need to remove and discard the "beard" (the fibers that extend from the shell.)

To do this, hold the mussel in one hand and pull the beard with the other-make sure you pull it toward the hinge end, not out toward the opening...that could kill it.

Now take the mussels out of the water and put them in another bowl of clean cold water. Lastly, brush off any sand or barnacles from the shells and dry them on a dish cloth.

Now on to the main event...

Steamed Mussels


  • 2 lbs. live mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 chopped shallot
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic


  • Heat the butter over medium high heat in a Dutch oven.
  • Saute the shallot until soft but not brown.
  • Add garlic and saute for a minute.
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil.
  • Add the mussels in one layer.
  • Cover the pot and let the mussels steam for about 6-8 minutes but check them after 4. Most should be starting to open.
  • As soon as the mussels are open turn off the heat and cover.
  • Spoon out mussels and broth into bowls (throw out any that didn't open.)

Make sure to serve with crusty grilled bread to soak up the delicious broth!


Dotty Perry February 19, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Mussels aren't necessarily a "seafood". They grow in salt and fresh water. My family has been harvesting and eating freshwater mussels in north central New England for many generations.
Sheila Duggan Chabot February 20, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Thank you for the clarification, Dotty.


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