1. They’re a deal!
At around $3 to $5 per pound (you’ll serve roughly 1 pound per person), mussels are an inexpensive alternative to pricier seafood options.
2. They’re easy to buy and store.
Look for glistening shells that are tightly closed (this is a sign that the mussels are alive) and use your nose. If they have a fishy scent, skip ’em. At home, fill a dish with ice, put the mussels on top, and cover loosely with a damp cloth. They’ll keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
3. You don’t have to be a seafood expert to prep them.
Right before cooking, give the mussels a rinse (and a scrub if they’re muddy). Tap on any open shells; toss the ones that don’t close. If you see what looks like a stringy weed hanging out of the shell near the hinge, give it a good tug. That’s the beard, which helps the mussel attach to rocks. It’s nasty, so it’s best to remove the beard before cooking.
4. You already have all the other ingredients.
Pour a bottle of beer in a large pot, stir in some mustard, and add your mussels. Or dump in that half-empty bottle of white wine, some garlic, and pretty much any herb. If you have some crusty bread lying around, it’s great for soaking up all the tasty juices.
5. They cook in minutes.
Add the mussels to the pot, then cover them. They’re cooked when the shells start to open, about 5 minutes.