There are 2 ways to use mussels in cooking each with its own pros and cons:
- One is a lengthy procedure(mentioned below),and is used when one plans to make a dish right away out of raw mussels.Pros:most of the dirt and waste in the mussels are removed before the cooking process,Cons:takes a long time,dangerous as knife work is involved and some juices may be lost while washing,and most importantly can be done when dish is prepared rt away,
- Second procedure is much simple,involves washing the mussels under water and steaming,so they open up and needs to be simply pulled out from the shell to make a dish.Pros:Less cumbersome ,short process,most useful when preparing large quantities and for stocking.Cons:the Waste and dirt inside is cooked along with the mussels,therefore the juices will contain the same(most will be found as sediment at the bottom of the steaming vessel,)not the most tasty way to prepare for tuffing)
The steps below are for above mentioned lengthy procedure.Most cooks in North Malabar follow this procedure as they believe this keeps the juices intact and makes the dish more tastier/sweeter.Given this procedure is not a very easy one to do,but once learned it seems like a better solutions.Earlier days,people had to buy the mussels and do the whole procedure at home,but of late the fish mongers so the tasks themselves before they sell.
- Hold single mussel in the palm of your hand so that the wedge between to the 2 halves are visible.Most often the 2 edges will be tightly shut,or if they are fresh they may be fully to slightly open like below.
- Incise the knife in the wedge between the 2 halves,slightly be careful so as to not get into the palm.
- Turn the knife down keeping the tip ever so lightly between the wedges,so that the edge of the knife can get into the wedge when the tip of the knife leaves its place and creates a gap.
- Push the knife further down slowly,so it reaches the middle of the mussles.
- When u move the knife further,you will find that you will be cutting into the part thats holding the 2 halves.and the mussels will open up completely.
- There are 2 things that needs to be cleaned in mussels ,one is the tuft of fiber that holds gives anchor to the mussels when they grow,which can be cut at its base with a knife.
- And another is a less digestable ,I am told is some kind of nervous system or digestive system ,not sure,if this is removed any number of mussels can be eaten without worrying about upsetting the stomach.Though in the pic below its not very visible,I shown the method to remove that(ie by slightly pushing the tip of the thumb into the outer edge of the left half of the mussel)
- For Frying the mussels,you can use the tip of the knife or the shell of mussels edges to loosen the edges that hold the mussel to its shell ,and pther pts where it is holding the mussel to the shell.Wash them lightly under water.(will update this process the next time).
- For stuffing.wash the open cleaned mussels lightly under running water .Note:the whole process of cleaning the mussels should be done after the stuffing is ready ,so that the mussels can be filled in as soon as they are cleaned ,as mentioned,the mussels loose their ‘muscle’ when left out open.