How to cook fresh mussels

Portarlington mussels are Famous. They really are.
We’re not just saying that ourselves.

Just ask MasterChef Australia. They have visited Portarlington on several occasions to taste and experience the sweet juicy mussels of our waters and were not disappointed. Many renowned chefs and various travel TV shows have also visited Portarlington because our mussels are known as THE BEST.

Portarlington even has its own Mussel Festival. Every January close to 30,000 people flock to the town because of our famous mussels, and the festival is full of live music, markets, food, drink and more. The mussel farms spread far and wide across the Northern Bellarine, and you can spot them from many vantage points along the coast. Some of the farmers have owned and managed the farms for many generations, and we’ll let you in on a secret, they are even growing some oysters native to these waters. (keep an eye out for them!)

Where can I eat them?

If you want to eat mussels while in Portarlington and surrounds, we can guarantee you will find them on many menus. They couldn’t be any fresher right?

Try Pier St Café, they have a delicious chowder or head to Jack Rabbit Winery where they cook them with their own locally produced wines. But if you want to try them cooked, pickled, smoked or fresh, then you have to head up to the Little Mussel Café to see what they have on offer.

Of course, we have them on the menu as well with delicious sauces to chose from and watch the specials board for our mussel pie, D E L I C I O U S!

How do I cook them?

First of all, let’s bust the biggest mussel myth! Mussels that don’t open after cooking are ok to eat, don’t throw them away. They just haven’t let go and you can simply slide a knife inside the shell to cut the adductor muscle open.

Here’s a simple way to cook mussels.

Rinse mussels in fresh water.
Pull out any remaining beards.
Place mussels in shallow pan or saucepan with lid.
Do NOT overfill as bottom mussels will open before the ones at the top.
Add about 1cm of liquid to the pan (water or white wine).
Place lid on and then heat until they start to steam.
Lift lid and check.
If the mussels are not all open, then replace lid and give a gentle stir or shake, allow to steam again until the lid starts to rattle.
If some mussels remain closed check by sliding a knife into them and prising open.
You can use some of the mussel liquor to add to a sauce.
Vegetables and herbs such as celery, onion, parsley, carrot, coriander, garlic, tarragon, chilli or basil can be added to the mussels when steaming or sautéed and added before steaming.

For more recipes here are some we found from local mussel farmer Sea Bounty

Where can I get them?

So if you’re up for the challenge, head directly to Portarlington Pier to get them fresh from Jen and her team at Mr Mussel. Grab some before you head back home on the ferry, or if you’re a local and wanting to impress your visiting friends and relatives, then you’ll know they are always available at Jenkins fish shop in Newcombe St. Highly recommended to enjoy with a glass of chardonnay from the Bellarine Peninsula.

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