Page 29 - Foodservice magazine may 2019
P. 29

Mussels are a true reflection of their growing environments; the “terroire” of their local waters delivers unique flavours and textures.
Mussels are simple bivalve mollusks, which opportunistically feed on the nutrients available to them in the water. They don’t require any additional feeding, making them environmentally benign.
Mussels are therefore a true reflection of their growing environments; the “terroire”
of their local waters delivers unique flavours and textures. It’s exciting to taste the regional differences between the flavour of say a Boston Bay, a Port Phillip Bay and a Spring Bay mussel, and these differences invite investigation.
The Tasmanian products are typically larger than those from Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia, characterised as big oceanic mussels that are slightly firmer in texture with a full savoury flavour. South Australian mussels are also usually sweeter than most others in Australia.
Just as nominating the provenance and history of an oyster has become de rigueur in restaurants; expect regional and seasonal variation between mussels to become a significant marketing opportunity for the food industry.
With increased demand, companies
such as Tasmania’s Spring Bay and Victoria’s Sea Bounty and Eyre Peninsula Seafoods are setting new standards in the quality, consistency and range of mussel products available.
The new industry standard is a pre- scrubbed, graded and de-bearded mussel, packed and ready to use.
Andrew Puglisi, proprietor of award- winning South Australian Mussel farm Kinkawooka Shellfish, pioneered the pre-packed mussel in Australia and, since introducing it to the market 10 years ago, has converted his entire crop to this form.
“We believe that this packing system ensures that the mussel is kept in the best possible condition,” says Puglisi of his unique SeaShore system. “Our mission was to deliver chefs a mussel of exactly the same eating quality as the ones we enjoy on the water when we are harvesting them.”
There are several brands, including Kinkawooka, Boston Bay, Spencer Gulf
and Spring Bay, that sell mussels in this foodservice-ready form. The pre-packed live mussels offer much more than convenience however; the animals enjoy a less stressed existence than their loose packed cousins, the result of which is a softer and sweeter flesh.
When buying mussels, loose or packed, take care in selection and handling, and check to see if there are many cracked, broken or dead. Look for mussels that are consistent in size, weight and shape.
Ideally, good quality live mussels should return a meat-to-shell ratio of over 35 per
cent. When cooked, the meat should be clean in flavour, varying from sweet to savoury, but with no strong brackish or meaty flavours. Any signs of bitterness or astringency suggest that the mussel is not in its best condition and should be avoided.
Mussels are easy to cook well and consistently delicious, so it’s no wonder that they are fast finding favour at all levels of dining.
The popularity of Belgian moules-frites (mussels cooked with white wine and served with fries and beer) has also boomed, with many mainstream hotels and restaurants now running “mussel nights”.
The pot-of-mussels concept can broaden a menu’s appeal, with many diners opting for a serve of mussels to share in addition to their orders, happily digging their way through together before they start the meal proper.
With mussels around the country in peak condition right now, explore their value, quality and variety and see how they can help give your business strength.
John Susman is the director of the seafood industry agency Fishtales. For more views, insights and understanding of the seafood industry visit

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