How to Cook Frozen Mussels

You're in the mood for mussels, but if the fresh mussels in the seafood section of your grocery store look less than ideal, then you may decide to head over to the frozen food section. How you prepare your frozen mussels may depend on whether they come with or without their shells.

How you prepare your frozen mussels may depend on whether your frozen mussels come with or without their shell.
Credit: LarisaBlinova/iStock/GettyImages

About Those Mussels

Mussels are mollusks, similar to oysters, and are comprised of two hinged shells with a soft inner body. They're often found attached to the seawall, gravel or rocks found near the coastline. These mollusks are filter feeders and take in water through their shells to get the nutrients they need as well as to clean the water.

Like other types of seafood, mussels are low in calories and fat, a good source of protein and rich in many vital nutrients your body needs for good health. According to data from the USDA, a 3-ounce portion of cooked blue mussels contains:

  • 146 calories
  • 20 grams of protein
  • 4 grams of total fat
  • 6 grams of carbs
  • 32 percent of the daily value (DV) for iron
  • 13 percent of the DV for vitamin C
  • 850 percent of the DV for vitamin B12

Though mussels are a nutritional powerhouse, they can also be a source of pathogens that can make you sick. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends you never eat raw or undercooked shellfish to reduce your risk of food poisoning.

According to two separate studies, one published in September 2019 in the Journal of Food Protection and the other published in August 2019 in Eurosurveillance, contaminated mussels were responsible for causing foodborne illness in Italy and the United Kingdom.

Read more: Mussels Nutrition Information

Cooking Frozen Mussels

When cooking frozen mussels, preparation may depend on whether the mussels were frozen with or without the shells. Due to safety concerns, frozen mussels should always be cooked prior to freezing. To get the best results, follow the directions on the package of the frozen mussels.

If your frozen mussels are still in the shell, you can steam them in a pot filled with one inch of water, wine or broth for five to seven minutes or until the mussel shells have opened. You can also saute them in oil or butter over high heat. Discard any mussels that haven't opened.

With shelled mussels, remove the beard — the membrane in the mussels that holds sand and grit — before serving. You can remove the beard with your fingers or a knife.

Frozen mussels no longer in the shell may not require as much work as those still in the shell. These frozen mussels have already been cooked and cleaned, and you may not need to cook them at all. Simply defrost in your kitchen sink under cold running water or in your refrigerator overnight and then add to your dish. Don't refreeze once they've been thawed.

Read more: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Health Benefits of Clams

Mussel Meat Easy Recipe

You can use frozen mussel meat in any of your usual mussel recipes. These shellfish are very flavorful and work well with pasta dishes. Consider adding the cooked mussel meat (with or without the shell) in tomato sauce before tossing with pasta. You can also steam the frozen mussels in the shell with the sauce to add some of the briny flavor.

For a simple mussel pasta dish, saute oil and garlic in a pan over medium-high heat until the garlic has browned, then add your mussel meat to the pan and continue cooking until the meat has warmed through. Toss the mussel garlic sauce with cooked pasta. Be sure to reserve some of your pasta cooking water to add more depth to your mussel pasta sauce. The starch in the pasta water helps thicken the sauce and adds a little more flavor.

You can also use frozen mussel meat to make stuffed mussels. Chop the cooked mussel meat and mix with Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and then stuff the mussel meat mixture back into the shells. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

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