Try This Simple Tip for Plump Steamed Mussels and Clams

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

One of my favorite meals is a big pot of fresh, flavorful steamed mussels. Steamed clams are also high up there, especially in the summertime. If you’re not familiar with cooking these bivalves at home, know this – they’re easy to make with just a few basic ingredients and they’re really affordable.

Mussels and clams do require a bit of cleaning, but it’s a trade-off I’m happy to take. When I was in culinary school, I learned a simple but extremely useful tip for cleaning and making extra-plump mussels and clams every time. It involves just water, salt, and a bit of flour.

Just before cooking, soak mussels or clams in a bowl filled with cold water, salt and about 1/4 cup of flour for about an hour. Why do this? The benefits are twofold:

1. Removing debris

Most of the mussels we buy today are farmed, so they don’t contain very much (if any) sand or grit. But, for the mussels and clams that do have debris, the flour helps to speed up its removal. While soaking, they breathe, filtering in the water and flour, and expelling any grit.

2. Plumping up mussels & clams

The flour doesn’t just help to filter out the junk, but the mussels and clams also feed on it. It’s my secret weapon for plump and juicy mussels and clams every time!

Put this tip to the test with any of these simply delicious recipes:

Have you ever tried soaking mussels or clams in flour?