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Mussels (mytilus edulis)

Most now seen in fishmongers shops have been cultivated, often on ropes or poles in carefully monitored waters.

If gathering mussels yourself, certain care has to be taken, as they are often prolific around sewage outlets, and even one polluted shellfish can be very dangerous. Those bought from a fish shop are very cheap, and generally free of the hassle of barnacles.

Either way, always rinse mussels in plenty of cold running water, just before cooking. Tap any open shells on the edge of the sink, and any that refuse to close should be thrown away. The thinking behind this is that mussels deteriorate fairly quickly after death and you have no way of knowing how long an open mussel has been dead - so for safety reasons only closed (live) mussels are cooked.

A pint of mussels (about

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