The Easy Substitute To Remember For Mussels

Mussels are part of the shellfish family and can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. One of the most classic French preparations is mussels in a white wine broth. In Italy, cioppino, which translates to "fisherman's stew," is a spicy tomato broth-based soup filled with fresh fish and shellfish like clams, mussels, and shrimp (per Once Upon A Chef). Mussels are often served in bistro style or fancier restaurants, which may lead to people thinking they're an expensive delicacy. Luckily, mussels are one of the cheapest and most accessible shellfish available for purchase. If you're intimidated by cooking shellfish at home, it's actually one of the easier seafood options to make at home.

Cooking with seafood can be intimidating, simply because it is a more delicate protein than chicken or fish. If you overcook shrimp or fish, it can become tough, rubbery, and all around not appetizing. It's important to be gentle when cooking fish and avoid constantly flipping it around in the pan so that it stays intact (via Food & Wine). When it comes to cooking shellfish like mussels, there's a telltale sign to tell when they're finished cooking. If you're ready to cook up a shellfish dinner at home, but your store is out of mussels, there's a quick substitution that's even in the same family.

Another shellfish, of course

Mussels, as well as oysters, scallops, and clams all belong to the bivalve mollusk family. According to the National Ocean Service, bivalve mollusks can be detected by their hard-hinged outer shell. If you're lucky, you may even find a pearl when cracking open one of the mollusks. While the mollusks are not entirely similar when it comes to texture and taste, clams and mussels can easily be interchanged in many applications. Food Champs notes that clams and mussels are both briny and slightly fishy, with a chewier texture than oysters. The main difference between clams and mussels is how they're typically prepared and served. In cooked dishes, mussels and clams are interchangeable, while oysters are preferred in a raw presentation.

If you want to make a shellfish-heavy dish like paella or bouillabaisse, you can choose clams or mussels, or a little bit of both. In a classic French dish like Moules Frites, steamed mussels are served next to crispy french fries. In a pinch, you swap the mussels for clams, which are just as delicious when cooked in a savory broth. When cooking with clams or mussels, you want to make sure they are properly cleaned before cooking. According to Martha Stewart, you need to remove any sand that could be lingering in the shells. A good rinse with cold water should do the job, especially for store-bought shellfish.