Your seafood choices can have a big impact on the health of our oceans and lakes—so make sure they’re positive ones! Every month, Shedd’s Right Bite team highlights a sustainable seafood option that’s  good for you and good for our planet. The Fish of the Month for February is farmed mussels.

Farmed mussels are considered a “Best Choice” on Shedd’s sustainable seafood wallet guide because they’re responsibly farmed, which means that there’s minimal environmental impact or pollution associated with the way that they’re raised. In fact, the presence of mussels can actually enhance the surrounding habitat by removing excess nutrients from the water. Mussels are filter feeders, which means that they suck in ocean water and feed on the microscopic plankton that it contains.

Be sure to try our Fish of the Month recipe, farmed mussels in spicy vodka sauce. Also check out the latest episode of “Cooking the Right Bite Way” to see step-by-step instructions on how to prepare this dish.

Here’s to connecting conservation and cuisine!

Farmed Mussels in Spicy Vodka Sauce
Serves 2 

1 pound farmed mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup vodka
1 14-oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicier)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (more for garnish)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Crusty bread, sliced and toasted
Optional: Pasta of your choice, cooked al dente

1. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. 
2. Add the garlic and pepper flakes; cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). 
3. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes, vodka, salt and pepper. 
4. Return the pan to medium heat. Stir until the alcohol cooks off and the sauce reduces (about 5 minutes). 
5. Add the cream and fresh parsley. Cook and stir till thickened (about 3 to 5 minutes). 
6. Add the mussels and cover until mussels open (about 5 minutes).

To serve with pasta:
7. Remove the mussels and keep them warm in a bowl with a lid.
8. Toss the sauce with al dente pasta and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. 
9. Cook the pasta with the sauce for a few more minutes. 
10. To serve, heap pasta in the center of the plate and arrange the mussels on top. Serve with crusty bread and grated cheese.

Kara Kotwas and Sam Bugg, Shedd Aquarium’s Right Bite team