Courtesy of 2016 SASSI Trailblazer winner Andrea Burgener
The mussels served in most restaurants are the horrible, tough and granular half-shell frozen kind. And what’s sad is that we now think that’s how a mussel should be. The difference is like night and day: fresh mussels, when properly (that means briefly) cooked, are truly silken, and taste of the sea in the best possible way. The frozen ones have no place in your kitchen or your mouth, so shun them. Ask a good fishmonger to source you the fresh ones; some of them will comply.
Count on about twelve mussels per person. Scrub and wash the shells, pull the beard out (as much as possible), then plunge into boiling water just until the nano-second they open, removing them individually as they do. You want them slightly undercooked.
You can prepare the mussels this far a couple of hours ahead, and leave covered in the fridge. When ready to eat, plonk them into the sauce below, and heat through just until hot, no longer.