Mussels and why we love them
27th July 2021
Once regarded as the poor man’s shellfish because of their small size and relative abundance, mussels have become widespread on restaurant menus all around the world. Platform 1’s ‘Local Mussels’ dish is one of our most popular and comes with a choice of either a white wine sauce or thai broth.
The mussels we serve come from the River Teign Estuary. They are cultivated and sustainably harvested by hand in inter-tidal waters, near the seaside town of Teignmouth, Devon, England.
Whilst you might have tried a mussel dish or two, here are a few random things you might not have known about these amazing molluscs.
Eaten since Prehistoric Times
Mussels have been cultivated for almost 800 years in Europe, and have been used as a food source for more than 20,000 years. In fact, prehistoric settlements in Scotland can often be identified by the large mounds of mussel shells found nearby.
Mussels feed on particles or small organisms strained out of water by circulating them through its system known as filtration feeding. This means they require good clean water to maintain their quality as when fully grown, they can filter about 30 litres of water per day. The River Teign is classified with a water quality of 'high' and it also has a designated shellfish water, to ensure the water quality in the area is kept at an optimum level. This is why wherever possible we choose to use River Teign mussels on the Platform 1 menu.
Shellfish such as mussels and oysters are seriously good for you and are some of the most nutritious foods around. Low in calories and fat, they are excellent source of protein, vitamins and Omega-3 oils that help reduce the risk of heart disease and protect against certain forms of cancer. The level of iron in mussels is similar to that of red meat and they also contain life-enhancing minerals like magnesium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium – and not to forget zinc, which is critical to human libido and male fertility.
Mussels that are sustainably farmed have virtually no negative environmental impact. In fact a recent US study claims that eating mussels is better for the planet than being vegan. You can read the full article here if you’d like more information about this.
Mussels hold on with their Beards
Once mussels grow to a couple of millimetres they begin to develop a beard and use this to hold onto their landing point or any solid surface. The mussel will now grow by up to a centimetre a month in good conditions.
There are Male and Female Mussels
Have you ever wondered why some mussels are orange and others are white? It all comes down to gender. The orange mussels are female and the creamy white mussels are male. Both have the same rich, sweet flavour and they both have beards!
Fancy having a go yourself ……
How to prepare mussels
Scrub mussels in cold water to remove barnacles or sand. Discard any that float to the top. Give any open mussels a sharp tap with a knife, and discard any that fail to close (they are dead). Remove the beard by giving it a sharp tug towards the hinge end of the mussel. Place cleaned mussels in a fresh bowl of cold water until ready to use. Change this water two or three times to remove any salt or sand.
How to cook mussels
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
150ml dry white wine
Bunch of parsley, chopped
Add the shallots and thyme leaves to a large pan with lid. Put the pan over a medium heat, add the wine and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat, cook gently for 10 minutes then turn the heat up to medium-high. Tip in the mussels, cover the pan, cook for three minutes, then check on them – if most of the shells are open, they’re done; if not, cover again and cook until they are. Discard any that refuse to open. Add the butter to the pan and pop the lid back on. Leave for 30 seconds, to give it time to melt, then add the parsley, season well and divide between two bowls.