Mussels are a seafood favorite, eaten in many different ways. They are often served with a sauce, which may be garlicky, lemony or tomato-based. They can also be baked, added to paella or fideua, or steamed. They are also used as an ingredient in dishes like mussel soup or risotto. Mussels are rich in protein, iron and a variety of B vitamins. They are also a good source of dietary fibre. When replacing meat in the diet, mussels provide a comparable amount of protein and less saturated fat. They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
In Belgium and the Netherlands, moules are typically consumed with French fries (moules frites) or bread. They are steamed in white wine and butter, then garnished with parsley and shallots and served as an appetizer or light meal. They can also be fried in batter or breadcrumbs and served at take-out food outlets or informal settings.
Before cooking, mussels are usually soaked in cold water for 20-30 minutes to allow them to start breathing and release any sand. They are then debearded by scraping away the fibrous tissue that emerges from each shell (the “beard”) with a knife.
The most common preparation of moules is moules à la marinière, which translates as “sailor-style mussels.” The mussels in this dish are raised in the intertidal bouchot method, where pilings (known as bouchots) are planted at sea, and a rope mesh sock seeded with young mussels is tied to each one. This requires an extensive tidal zone and is more expensive than the raft culture technique.