A bivalve mollusk that has been enjoyed by Europeans for thousands of years but Americans have only recently begun to appreciate them. The blue mussel is the most common species available in the United States. It has a bluish black shell containing flesh that is ivory to bright orange, which can be eaten raw or cooked. The mussel has a moderately firm texture with a sweet flavor similar to lobster and can be found in food stores that are well stocked with a variety of fish or in fish markets. Mussels are found along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, clinging to sea walls, rocks, gravel and any other surface that will hold it. The U.S. supplements their supply of mussels with cultured, farm grown mussels, which have cleaner, thinner shells and a flesh that is plumper and more consistent in size. Wild Mussels must be thoroughly cleaned to eliminate the possibility of paralytic poisoning caused by toxic blooms of algae, which is a result of the pollution they are exposed to. To Clean: Run under cold water to rinse thoroughly and scrub shells with a wire brush to remove dirt. Remove any barnacles with a small sharp knife and pull off any seaweed fibers that are sticking out of or on the shell. Throw out broken shells and any that are not closed tightly. To Grill: Open mussels before grilling by steaming above simmering water or broth for approximately 3 minutes. If some do not open, discard them. Mussels are grilled in their shells.
Mussels can be found in all seas and oceans but mainly around Europe and the Atlantic western and eastern coasts. Mussels are found in the intertidal zone on rocks and in beds of sand of depths of 30 feet. There are several species of mussels and the most common are blue mussels. Mussels can be grown in special arranged areas or offshore seas and oceans. Generally mussels have egg-shaped bodies that have different colors but the most common color is dark brown. Generally wild mussels have thick shell and brighter colors while farmed mussels have a thinner shell and darker colors. Mussels have beards that they use to attach themselves to growing medium. Mussels are generally reared and sold in order to be cooked. Mussels survive by feeding themselves with algae and other aquatic vegetative organisms. Wild mussels live a long life approximately twenty years old. Mussels are bivalve clams quite similar to soft-shell clams except the shell is habitually much thicker. Mussels are similar to other clams and they never live their shell and due to the fact that the shell is quite hard it is very difficult for the predators to smash their shell.