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In the Kitchen with Vital Choice

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Vital Choice at Home: Steamed Mussels, Demystified

Vital Choice at Home: Steamed Mussels, DemystifiedWelcome to Vital Choice at Home!


This series features me, Michelle, a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains, my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood and lots of regular home cooking. (Click here to learn more about me, below.)

I want to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.

Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test? Email me, to help shape this series.


Steamed Mussels, Demystified

One of the wonderful, weird things about my 10-year-old daughter, Sophia, is that her absolute favorite food is steamed mussels.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to convince an incredulous server, that, YES, she really does want the mussels for dinner.

My husband is not a shellfish fan, and so my default meal when we eat out is generally mussels as well. It always feels like an indulgence without being overly filling.

Plus, I've always been much too intimidated to try it at home. To be honest, it always seemed a) complex and b) scary.

So this week's adventure in the kitchen was a true culinary revelation! 

For Sunday lunch Sophia and I prepared a pound of Frozen Pacific Blue Mussels, and I have to tell you, I don't recall the last time I made anything so incredibly delicious AND simple.

As Sophia said: "Mom, that took longer to eat than it did to prepare!” And she was right.

Before talking about preparation, a few words about the beauty of Vital Choice's Frozen Pacific Blue Mussels. After being cleaned and vacuum-packed, the mussels are immersed in 175°F water for 13 minutes.

This process pasteurizes and partially cooks the mussels, making it very easy to pull the meat from the shell. 
Also, the mussels grow in mid-water, so are generally sand-free ... and any sand in them is removed by this immersion.

Our broth was absolutely gorgeous, nary a grain of sand in sight. The same can't be said for many restaurant versions of the dish.

In addition, the mussels can go directly from the freezer to the stove with no thawing – which in our hectic household meant we could make these at the last minute, since all of the ingredients were pantry items. 
We definitely kept it simple for our first try at steamed mussels.

We threw a few tablespoons each of finely chopped yellow onion and shallot, about ¼ cup dry white wine, a splash of white wine vinegar and a few tablespoons of cubed butter into a sauté pan. 

Then we added the frozen mussels, covered and brought to a boil, steaming for about four minutes. 
The wine mingled with shallots and onions gave the whole kitchen the most enticing smell. 

After steaming, we plucked the mussels from the pan, strained our broth in cheesecloth (which was really unnecessary), added it back to the bowls and topped the mussels with a bit of chopped fresh Italian parsley.

This was a simple afternoon lunch for us, so we just enjoyed ours with some toasted baguette for dipping in the heavenly broth.
Our pound of Vital Choice Frozen Pacific Blue Mussels contained 17 mussels, of which 16 opened.

But here's the true beauty of these high-quality shellfish: Because they've been pre-cooked and pasteurized, even unopened mussels are perfectly safe to eat! We easily popped open the one stubborn shell, and it was just as delicious.

I have to say, this quick meal felt like a culinary victory! From chopping to the table, the dish took 10 minutes, tops. 
And we had beyond-restaurant-quality food in the comfort of our own home, and really as a spur-of-the-moment treat!

The mussels were plump and full of delicious, briny flavor. I was amazed at how large they were, and how satisfying this simple treat was.

Next time I'll experiment with a slightly more complex preparation – perhaps add some diced fresh tomato, red pepper flakes, or maybe a splash of Pernod and some finely sliced fennel.

However, as Sophia said, these were "quick, easy and delicious!”

A Note from Michelle
Like you, I have a passion for beautiful-yet-healthy food that's easy to prepare.
While I do love making the occasional "fancy” dinner, most of the time I'm short on time and have a house full of hungry people who want to eat NOW.
I'm not a professional chef – I'm just a busy mom who loves to cook and who's focused on that intersection of healthy and delicious.
I want this series to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.
Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?

Email me and help to shape this series.
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