Mussels are one of the most popular seafood in Albania. In fact in every seaside restaurant you will order a dish with delicious and fresh mussels. What’s more, the mussels have numerous health and nutritional properties. They are rich in protein, Omega-3 acids, selenium, iron and vitamin B12. Thanks to this, they increase immunity, protect the cardiovascular system and improve well-being. Therefore, if you are in Albania, be sure to try them!
Probably many of you have ever heard of mussels. However, they are still a mystery. The question arises: what are mussels, how to eat them and is it worth it at all? Well it is! Mussels are really tasty and, what’s important, very healthy. They contain a lot of nutrients, including healthy fatty acids like Omega-3 and many minerals like potassium, sodium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. They are also rich in many vitamins. Especially from group B, folates and niacates, which have a positive effect on the proper development of the body. What’s more, the mussels are low-calorie, so they are ideal as part of the diet of people on a diet.
What the mussels are?
Mussels are molluscs belonging to the shellfish subtype. There are as many as 8,000 species, but the most popular are mussels Venus. They live on the coasts of the Atlantic, the English Channel, Canada, Normandy, Brittany and countries located in the Mediterranean.
Albania is a country where the production of mussels is one of the most important sources of income. Extensive mussel plantations were located in the south of the country. It is here that the climatic conditions and favorable terrain have created the perfect place to set up these mollusks. Most of them are located in the waters of the largest sweet-saltwater reservoir near the city of Saranda and ancient Butrint. On this lake in 1960, the production of mussels for the international hall began. At the beginning, the annual production was “only” 2000 tons, but in 1989 it reached the level of over 5000 tons of this mollusk per year!
Before 1990, mussels grown in Butrint were known not only on the domestic market, but also abroad. In France or Italy, Albanian mussels were considered the best quality. This fact greatly strengthened their production, which reached as much as 6,000 tons per year. Today, under the influence of the EU embargo, this indicator ranges from 3000 to 3500 tonnes. And the constantly improving water quality in plantations will make mussels once again become one of the most important export products.
Where eat great mussels?
In the Butrinti lagoon only 25 clam producers are licensed. It means that several wonderful restaurants have grown up around them. Mussels are served in them straight from the plantation which guarantees freshness of served dishes. I like three of them the most – Mussels House, restaurant in Hotel Livia near Butrint and the Laberia tavern located on Mitat Hoxha street in Saranda.
A restaurant and a small camping, Mussels House, are a little off the beaten track. On the road from Saranda to Ksamil on the left you have to turn sharply left and head down towards the lake. At the end of the road is one of my best restaurants, which only serves mussel dishes. You can even eat a kebab here!!!
The owner also organize trips on their boats around the lake. Tourists can see up close what a plantation of these super healthy seafood looks like. What’s more, if someone is looking for an interesting place to stay, at Mussels House you can stay in bungalows.
If you’re wondering whether to order a dish with mussels in Albanian restaurants, I assure you that it’s really worth it. They taste completely different than in Poland or anywhere else. First of all, because they are fresh and healthy ingredients straight from Albanian farmers are used to prepare dishes. Just heaven in my mouth!