Terran (Earth) Bivalve molluscs
Mussel is the common name used for members of several families of bivalve molluscs, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.
The word "mussel" is most frequently used to mean the edible bivalves of the marine family Mytilidae, most of which live on exposed shores in the intertidal zone, attached by means of their strong byssal threads ("beard") to a firm substrate. A few species (in the genus Bathymodiolus) have colonised hydrothermal vents associated with deep ocean ridges.
In most marine mussels the shell is longer than it is wide, being wedge-shaped or asymmetrical. The external colour of the shell is often dark blue, blackish, or brown, while the interior is silvery and somewhat nacreous.
The common name "mussel" is also used for many freshwater bivalves, including the freshwater pearl mussels. Freshwater mussel species inhabit lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, canals, and they are classified in a different subclass of bivalves, despite some very superficial similarities in appearance.
Freshwater zebra mussels and their relatives in the family Dreissenidae are not related to previously mentioned groups, even though they resemble many Mytilus species in shape, and live attached to rocks and other hard surfaces in a similar manner, using a byssus. They are classified with the Heterodonta, the taxonomic group which includes most of the bivalves commonly referred to as "clams".
STEAMED MUSSELS ITALIAN-STYLEEdit
Mussels steamed in garlic, onion and white wine is a classic preparation, full of flavor.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
2 lbs mussels, cleaned (see recipe notes)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
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Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant. Stir in the crushed red pepper, the wine and the diced tomatoes. Turn up the heat and bring the liquid to a quick boil. Add the mussels, all at once and cover immediately. Cook for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan every 30 seconds or so to redistribute the mussels. Uncover and check to see if the majority of the mussels have opened. If not, cover again and continue to steam for another minute or so.
Once the mussels have opened, quickly transfer them to a serving bowl. Stir the breadcrumbs into the still simmering pan juices to thicken them slightly, add the parsley and pour the mixture over the mussels.
To clean the mussels, scrub the outer shell lightly with a soft brush, rinse thoroughly and drain. Trim away any tough brown fibers (known as the “beard”) with a pair of kitchen shears. Keep refrigerated at all times.