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Mussels (mytilus edulis)

a bivalve sea-water shellfish of the mytilidae family. They are found, generally in clusters, attached to rocks around the Mediterranean, and both sides of the North Atlantic. They have a blue/black elongated shell, and those around Britain grow up to about 10cm/4ins – but 6cm/2½in is more normal.
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 ½ kilo) will provide a generous starter-sized helping for each person. The smaller ones, commonly found in Northern France (and frequently imported) have a sweeter flavour, but the larger ones are much less work! For recipes see Gourmet Britain Recipe section.

(Mytilus Edulis): a bivalve sea-water shellfish of the mytilidae family. They are found, generally in clusters, attached to rocks around the Mediterranean, and both sides of the North Atlantic. They have a blue/black elongated shell, and those around Britain grow up to about 10cm/4ins – but 6cm/2½in is more normal.
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 ½ kilo) will provide a generous starter-sized helping for each person. The smaller ones, commonly found in Northern France (and frequently imported) have a sweeter flavour, but the larger ones are much less work! For recipes see Gourmet Britain Recipe section.

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