Flex Those Curried Mussels

I made “Curried Mussels” last night from the Jean-Georges Cookbook. Co-cookbook author, Mark Bittman, raves about this recipe in the recipe’s preface and since mussels are so cheap–($3 for TWO POUNDS)–and since I had all the other ingredients (sour cream, white wine, curry powder, lemon) this was a no-brainer. Here are the mussels in a bowl after washing them:

I feel that this step–the washing and the sorting–was the most important step in yielding a successful result and the one I did the worst job at. Here’s what I know from just my general knowledge: if a mussel is open when you take it out of the bag, try to close it. If it doesn’t close it’s dead and you should throw it out. Mussels should be closed when you start. The large bulk of my mussels were closed, so that’s okay.

The recipe instructions say “wash and debeard the mussels.” I scrubbed the mussels with a bristly sponge and then felt around for the beard. Some of the mussels had a beard, others didn’t. Those that did, I yanked the beard out and threw it away. That’s how I prepared my mussels…

After that, I prepared my mise en place: the chopped shallot, butter, the white wine, curry powder, lemon and sour cream:


I put my Le Crueset on the stove and added the butter to the bottom, turned up the heat and waited for the butter to melt. When it melted I added the shallots and after cooking them for a few minutes, I added the mussels and the wine. Then I covered and shook and let it steam, as per the instructions, for 10 minutes (“or until the mussels open.”) Unfortunately, with the lid on, it was difficult to determine when the mussels had opened. I felt like I cooked them a little too long, when I finally took the lid off:


I removed the mussels and then prepared the sauce. This is the most successful part of the recipe. You strain the mussel liquid into a bowl, wipe out your pot, then re-add the liquid and bring it to a boil. You add the sour cream, the curry, and the lemon and stir for a few minutes. Here’s that sauce:


I had halved the recipe (the recipe calls for 4 lbs of mussels, and I made 2 lbs because I was cooking for just me) but I sure wish there had been more sauce. It was the best part.

I took Jean-George’s and Mark Bittman’s suggestion to serve with sticky rice. I bought sushi rice and cooked it according to the sushi rice instructions. (Next time I’ll try Jean’s recipe for cooking the rice in a banana leaf and then stirring in coconut milk!)

Here’s my finished mussel dish:


The best part? The sauce and the rice.

The worst part? The mussels!

Some of the mussels were fine–nothing weird about them. But then others had the worst thing ever–the thing I hate MOST about eating bivalves: little grains of sand. If there is one sensation that sends shivers down my spine more than any other it’s that feeling you get when you bite down on sand in your food. It’s awful…

Now sometimes there was sand and other times there were little pieces of broken shell. A few times the mussels themselves were green and mealy and completely disgusting. For the large part I had no idea what I was eating when I was eating a mussel, and I found myself dissecting each mussel with my fingers like a 3rd grade biology student.

I ate them all, discarding the shells, and I paused wondering if I was going to be sick. I didn’t feel sick: I just figured that I had most likely ingested something poisonous since I hadn’t cleaned my mussels well. But I am proud to report that I have survived these past 24 hours…I am perfectly healthy… though as I type this I as;oeu eoasaeshoeasyh ;aesohyaheay

10 thoughts on “Flex Those Curried Mussels”

  1. Soak the mussels in salt water and cornmeal. The cornmeal helps to get out the grit. Maybe it was just a bad batch of mussels though?

  2. Sounds good – except for your mussel problem. I have had good luck with not getting mussles that are too gritty. If you want to ensure a good meal, dump uncooked shrimp in the pot with whatever mussel recipe you are using. That way you get the delicious mussel juice that makes the sauce so good and you have a backup food in case the mussels suck.

    Another great and easy recipe is Rachel Ray’s Mussels in Mexican Beer. Highly recommended. You can find it on the Food Network site.

  3. How I agree and that is why I have refrained from cooking mussels ever again after my first attempt.. best to leave it to the professionals!

  4. I second the mussel soaking suggestion. I’ve made some gritty mussels in the past, but a good soak (or two) can work wonders.

  5. Hmmm… I use farm-raised mussels that are perfectly cleaned and debearded and flavor is great. Do you have these out your way?

  6. Farm mussels are great. They’re raised on ropes, away from the sandy bottom so they have neither beard nor dirty inside them.

  7. I only use mussels when I know where they came from. Highly recommend Stony Island Seafarm mussels from Cape Cod. Seeded but wild. No doubt the best

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