About Seafood

Delicious Seafood: Mussels

Meaty Mussels in Creamy Garlic & White Wine Sauce … Does it Get Any Better?

If you ha076 (2)ven’t yet tried mussels, what are you waiting for? They’re delicious!

Inexpensive, easy to cook, an impressive starter to any meal and simply scrumptious served in warm creamy garlic and white wine sauce with crusty buttered bread. If you don’t like creamy garlic sauce try spicy tomato sauce, add chorizo, bacon or anything of your choice. The beauty of mussels is their versatility. Put them in stews, soups, rissoto, spaghetti, curries – they look fantastic and taste even better.


Mussels are high in protein, very low in fat and low in carbohydrate. They’re an excellent source of vitamins and important minerals, including B12 (helps maintain nerve fibres and red blood cells), Selenium (which helps support protein function) and Zinc (helps the immune system ward off invading bacteria and viruses). Mussels also contain Iodine (which is essential for the natural production of thyroid hormones that contribute to basic metabolism as well as helping the body to efficiently burn calories). Although not as much as oily fish, mussels are a good source of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids (which help prevent heart disease, high cholesterol, blood clots, and aid circulation).

When to buy mussels:

Typically mussels are at their best and have a higher meat content between September to April, hence the saying ‘You should only eat mussels when there is an R in the month’ although the current climate can have an effect on this. Buying your mussels from a fishmonger who usually has a rapid turnover ensures fresh mussels.

Cooking mussels:

Before cooking mussels check to ensure they are still alive; live mussels, when in the air, will shut tightly when disturbed. When mussels are open and unresponsive they are dead, and must be discarded. Mussel shells usually open when cooked, revealing the cooked soft edible parts. Don’t overcook mussels. Steam them until they open and pull away from the shell (usually about 4 minutes). Watch this light hearted but informative video by Chef Jean Pierre on a traditional favorite in the South of France, Mussels Provencal.

by Chef Jean Pierre

Mussels Provencal


  1. Olive Oil
  2. Onion
  3. Tomato
  4. Tyme, Parsley
  5. Garlic
  6. Good Quality White Wine
  7. Add Cream for a Mussel Bisque

Send us your own mussel recipes with an image  if you’d like to share them with other seafood lovers.

The Edible Brown Crab

Edible Brown Crab (cancer pagurus)

scrabstock brown crabA male crab is called (a cock) and the female crab (a hen). The brown crab is caught all around the UK coast. UK crab is prized all around the world and there’s a thriving crabbing industry out of most fishing ports, with boats from 10 meters to 60 meters plus. If you went to each port around the UK the fishermen would say they catch the best crab.  Brown crab takes on the flavour of its habitat where it is found in the waters around the UK. Some of the best tasting crab is the crab caught in tidal waters like the English Channel and around the islands of Scotland, and any other tidal location. Tidal waters carry more food and nutrients and are cleaner, which gives the crab a better taste.

B38The Taste

Two meats in the edible brown crab are found in both the hen crabs and cock crabs; the sweet delicate white meat which is found in the legs, claws and the purse, and the brown meat which is packed full of flavour and found in the shell.

The best way to tell a good crab is to ask your local fishmonger when it was caught and cooked; you have five days for freshness once the crab is cooked (even when picked).

B40If you pick up a live or cooked crab it should feel heavy for its size. If it feels light, there won’t be much meat inside. The reason for this is crab moults through its life cycle to grow (the male or ‘cock’ crab grows by 10mm per year, and the female or ‘hen’ crab grows by 5mm per year).

Cock crab can reach 5kg plus and hen crab could grow up to 3kg. When the crab moults the crab is soft so it takes a few months to harden up.  You can get a good crab all year round: the hen crab is good from August to February (September being the best month) and the cock crab is good mostly all year round, except July and August which aren’t so good.

Cooking and Preparing

crab potFor both the hen and the cock crab the cooking time per 1kg of weight, is 6 minutes when the water is boiling. Add a bit of sea salt to the water before placing the crab in the pot.

Before you cook the crab you can place it in a sink full of fresh water or put it in the freezer for half an hour to put the crab to sleep.

Neither method will kill the crab but it will slow his body down. A quick way of killing the crab is to put a knife in its mouth and twist it.

The reason behind slowing the crab or killing it before cooking is you don’t want the crab to shed all is legs and claws whilst boiling.  You want the whole crab to come out of the pot.

After 12 minutes or so put the crab on a try and let the residual heat finish off the cooking and you will have a perfectly cooked crab.

The Picking

You can pick the meat from a cooked crab without fear, it isn’t as hard as you think. All you need is a teaspoon and a rolling pin and two pots to put the white and brown meat in.  You can follow the steps in the picture guide. When you have picked the crab, enjoy.

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Adrian Bartlett is the founder of the Crabstock Shellfish Festival. Adrian shares his knowledge and passion with the UK public and chefs to show how good UK Shellfish is to eat and how easy it is to pick a crab without fear.  The information in this blog is courtesy of Adrian Bartlett. 

The information in this blog is courtesy of Adrian Bartlett of Crabstock Festivals
The information in this blog is courtesy of Adrian Bartlett of Crabstock Festivals

The Crabstock team visits primary schools with kids from the age of five to eleven throughout the UK with live crabs and lobsters and videos of the industry.  Adrian thinks if we show children what we have and educate them, they should start to eat seafood without fears and this will support the industry in future years. 

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