How to remove cooked mussels from their shells

How to remove cooked mussels from their shells

8 December 2014

How to remove cooked mussels from their shells

Some recipes call for mussels to be removed from their shells especially when they are just one element of a larger dish – such as Tom Aiken’s Bouillabaisse or Simon Hulstone’s Mussels mouclade with spinach mousse. Extracting the mussels for use in this way is very simple when you know how.

Once the mussels are cooked, strain and allow to cool
Discard any mussels that haven’t opened during the cooking process
Using your fingers, delicately prise each mussel away from the shell – they should come away easily
Keep covered in the fridge until required


Reserve the mussel cooking liquid to use as a base for a rich sauce.

When preparing the mussels for the finished dish, remember that they are already cooked so only require very gentle reheating for a very short time. Too much cooking at this stage will make the delicate mussels rubbery.

Serving suggestions

Many recipes call for shelled mussels for their soft texture and sweet flavour of the sea. Try Shaun Rankin’s Linguine with mussels, Kevin Mangeolles Pan-fried sea bass with Brancaster mussels, gnocchi and fennel or Matthew Tomkinson’s Hake with courgettes, Provençal mussel sauce and crispy breadcrumbs.

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