It's one of our favourite ingredients here in NZ, and while they are farmed year-round they are coming back to their best right now. But although there isn't too much to get right with a product as good as our native mussels, when it comes to sourcing, storing and cooking, there is lots that can go wrong.
Picking the best
The best farmed mussels come from the Far North, Marlborough and Coromandel. As with all seafood, be sure it smells fresh first of all. Live mussels have tightly closed shells or will close when tapped. Never choose or use a mussel that is open, chipped, broken, or damaged in any way.
Storing & preparing
Prep mussels by rinsing under running water, then tug out their beards. Fresh mussels should be consumed within 48 hours of purchase, and must be stored in the fridge, covered with a damp cloth.
They don't take long (usually 3-4 minutes with a saute or steam), and are easy to tell when cooked as the shells open up. They should be removed from the heat as soon as done to avoid overcooking. We would advise against reheating mussels. It's not worth the associated risk, and it's all too easy for them to dry out and turn rubbery.