i really like mussels. i used to like them less when i spent time as a prep cook cleaning at least 20 pounds a night. Since 2000, 80% of the mussels available in north american are pei mussels, which minimize what was once a labor intensive process in the kitchen. Mussels like many other bivalves grow in the intertidal zone of the ocean, where the happily filter feed and reproduce, they attach themselves to a substrate and grow in large clumps. on prince edward island an industry has developed by growing them on strings in deeper water and this has resulted in a better product. but enough about the history lets get back to the cooking.
i like them steamed in red wine and served with a nice baquette for sopping up the juice in the bowl. they are also delicious served with french fries and a nice belgian beer. i'll give you the recipe and method i use and you be the judge. feel free to try steaming them in white wine with shallots and tarragon as well.
1 lb PEI mussels
1/2 cup red wine, lighter bodied and medium dry is nice
1 tbsp garlic
1/3 cup chopped roma tomato
freshly ground pepper
heat a 1-2 quart heavy bottomed sauce pan (one with a lid) over medium high heat,
add a little olive oil and sweat shallots and garlic, toss in tomatoes and red wine, add mussels and cover with a tight fitting lid and steam for 3-5 minutes until the mussels open.
remove the mussels and reserve in a serving dish
reduce the pot liquor slightly , turn off heat and
mount with butter
pour sauce over mussels and garnish with freshly chopped basil