The Tip To Ensure A Pot Of Mussels Cooks Evenly

The humble mussel. Considered a more affordable seafood alternative to fresh clams and "the poor man's oyster," mussels are actually delicious mollusks in their own right, and can serve as the central or supporting star of a meal. An integral part of the classic moules frites pairing and a popular seafood appetizer at bistros and restaurants all over, mussels are also surprisingly easy to cook at home, though they may seem intimidating at first — how do you avoid overcooking the delicate flesh and how do make sure they cook evenly, so that most if not all of your mussels open up after cooking and can be safely enjoyed?

Although there are different ways to cook mussels, including baking them in the oven and grilling them on a barbecue, the most common cooking method is to steam them in a pot using your choice of liquids, preferably wine, beer, coconut milk, or a tasty broth with some aromatics and herbs to impart extra flavor, though plain water will work as well in a pinch. As the liquid heats up, it creates steam. Since you are using the steam to cook the mussels, you want to put a lid on the pot as soon as you put the mussels in, so that the steam can work to its full effect.

Steam and stir or shake

Use a large pot if you have one so that the mussels aren't crowded on top of each other and have enough room to properly cook — just make sure you have a lid for the pot. To ensure that the steam evenly cooks the mussels, you'll want to remove the lid and stir the mussels partway through the cooking process. Bon Appétit recommends only doing this once so you don't lose any of the steam. Another method, which will avoid losing any steam while also ensuring even cooking, is to gently shake the pot a few times as it cooks to distribute the mussels.

Note that you don't want to actually boil the mussels. So make sure you're cooking the mussels at a steady simmer rather than a rolling boil. You also don't want to overcook the mussels, so keep a close eye on the pot. Once the mussels open, which could take just a few minutes, they are ready to be served. Discard any mussels that have not opened, top with the remainder of your cooking liquid, and enjoy your steamed mussels — slurping is encouraged!