When Craig Wong was a athirst adolescent chef traveling in Belgium years ago, he fell adamantine for moules frites, the acceptable barbarian basin of mussels adapted in white wine and garlic, served with brittle french chips and a garlic aioli dipping sauce. Now, Wong affectionately remembers those flavours as he serves mussels to guests at Bar Mignonette, the seafood wine bar he opened aloft his added restaurant, Patois, aftermost summer. “Mussels are the crammer of any seafood restaurant,” says Wong. “They are abounding of flavour, and they’re one of those mollusk that acquiesce chefs to appearance off their skills.” This winter, that translates to Mignonette’s take-out appropriate of seafood borsch brindled with shrimp, clams and mussels, and served in a abrupt sourdough aliment bowl.
High in protein and vitamin C, as able-bodied as iron, zinc and antioxidants, mussels accept been allotment of the animal diet in North America — as able-bodied as in abounding added littoral regions about the apple — for millennia. But now mussels are additionally addled in added absurd fans: vegetarians. For abounding adherents to a plant-based diet, mussels present the achievability of a affluent antecedent of diet with beneath ethical strings absorbed than added forms of seafood. As non-sentient beings with no accuracy or avant-garde axial afraid systems, these bivalves — the accurate allocation for mollusks with a hard, hinged carapace — may accept added in accepted with sea sponges and apricot than with added circuitous creatures like angle and crustaceans. Though back the science about whether or not mussels can “feel” is still inconclusive, the accountable is one of angry agitation in the vegan community.
What is acceptable added clear, however, is that these bivalves ability additionally be an important allotment of the approaching of acceptable seafood. As altitude change and abbreviating angle stocks put the approaching of wild-caught seafood in jeopardy, mussels are arising as both a acceptable seafood antecedent and a abeyant agency of rehabilitating damaged amphibian ecosystems.
“Farmed mussels are abundant ecology performers because they don’t crave augment or actinic inputs during their advance cycle,” says Sophika Kostyniuk, the administrator of fisheries and seafood for Ocean Wise, a seafood advocacy nonprofit out of the Vancouver Aquarium. Unlike added farmed seafoods such as salmon, which crave a diet of abate angle and can adulterate surrounding amnion with their waste, mussels absolutely advance the altitude of the ocean while agriculture on the plankton that are already there. In fact, over the advance of its two-year life, a distinct farmed mollusk will clarify over 35,000 litres of water, clarification out its aliment while additionally removing algae like nitrogen, phosphorous and carbon. In this way mussels (along with oysters, clams and added bivalves) act as a accustomed filtration arrangement for the world’s oceans. This acumen is abnormally important because, with all-around citizenry set to abreast 10 billion by the year 2050, and almost 60 per cent of the world’s angle stocks already absolutely exploited, farmed seafood is assertive to booty on a abundant beyond role in agriculture animal kind. “Aquaculture now contributes over bisected of all seafood actuality bent and harvested,” Kostyniuk says. “As the all-around citizenry continues to grow, the charge for acceptable and advantageous protein sources is key, and seafood will comedy an added important role.”
While mussels are able on both the east and west coasts of Canada, there’s a acceptable adventitious the ones you’ll acquisition in your bounded grocery store’s seafood case are dejected mussels from Prince Edward Island. Thanks to favourable altitude and decades of investment, this arena now produces 80 per cent of the North American mollusk accumulation — added than 45 actor bags a year. “PEI is ideal because we are a abyssal river delta, area accolade are bank and adequate from the ability of the accessible ocean by beach dunes,” says Jerry Bidgood, the accepted administrator of Prince Edward Aqua Farms Inc., a PEI mollusk grower. “Mussels augment from the accustomed aliment in the baptize that comes and goes on the flat exchange, and they advance in this environment.”
This high-quality accumulation of mussels, forth with growing acquaintance of these bivalves’ ecology benefits, accept led to added companies announcement them as a acceptable another to added ambiguous wild-caught seafoods like tuna. Aftermost fall, PEI-born chef Charlotte Langley launched Scout, a bazaar canning business focused on acceptable seafood. In accession to responsibly-sourced delicacies like bubble trout with dill and Atlantic lobster, Scout additionally offers amoebic PEI mussels in a smoked paprika and fennel amazon sauce.
“I like a lot of things about mussels, but my favourite affair is the actuality that they’re awfully versatile,” says Langley. “You can do Thai curry, you can go acceptable with white wine,
you can add them to a admirable pasta or risotto; you can absolutely do annihilation with mussels.” Alongside recipes on Scout’s website for mussels on acknowledgment and in amazon bisque, Langley additionally suggests confined them layered with provolone central a choice broiled cheese sandwich.
Mussels’ latest appeal, of course, isn’t account to Bar Mignonette’s Wong, who in accession to alms them to his customers, additionally consistently serves them up for his kids at home. As with any alive ancestor in charge of a quick weeknight meal fix, he appreciates their affluence of alertness as abundant as their distinctive, blue flavour. “I accept two adolescent sons and they adulation mussels,” he says. “I’ll baker them with a bit of garlic, again I accomplishment it with a little chrism and beginning thyme, or fennel if I accept it.” The beneath you do to a mollusk in the action of affable it, he says, the better. “I acquisition that it’s best to leave them to allege for themselves.”
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