Mussels are nature’s fast-food gifts from the sea.
They are beautiful to behold in their ebony shells, decorated with concentric growth lines. They cook almost instantly (they’re done when their shells pop open) and are very low in fat and high in protein. Their texture is meaty, and they taste of the sea, a little briny and slightly sweet.
Farm-raised mussels (Mytilus edulus) from Maine are available in two-pound bags at many fish markets and better supermarkets.
But if you can find them, the biggest, plumpest, juiciest, and most flavorful mussels we have ever eaten are the Mediterranean mussels (Mytilus galloprovin cialis), raised in the state of Washington by Taylor Shellfish Farms.
In either case, cultivated mussels are grit-free and barnacle-free, and need only a light brushing before cooking. Most of the dark, steel-wooly beards have been removed. A light tug removes any that may remain protruding between the shells.
Use the same wine for cooking and drinking.