These mussels, midye dolma are stuffed with seasoned rice and served in their shells with a lemon wedge. They’re a true street food in Istanbul, peddled from little stands—usually lined up like shiny black-and-yellow beacons on well-traveled sokaks — by industrious young men.
- 1 cup cracked rice (see note 1)
- 24 mussels, scrubbed, beards removed (see note 2)
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 400 g can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup currants (see note 3)
- 1 teaspoon fresh mint, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped
- chopped parsley, to garnish
- lemon wedges, to serve
- Wash the rice, cover with cold water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain the rice, then rinse and drain a final time. Meanwhile, soak the cleaned mussels in a sink or large bowl of luke-warm water for about 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Fry the pine nuts, onion, garlic and allspice over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until the pine nuts turn a light golden brown. Stir in the rice, tomato and raisins, and cook for 2 minutes, season to taste. Pour over enough boiling water to just cover the rice. Stir, then bring to the boil and cover. Cook over very low heat for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed. Tip the rice into a shallow bowl, then stir in the mint and dill. Set aside to cool slightly.
- To prepare the mussels, remove the beards, then hold each mussel by its narrow end, with the pointed edge facing outwards. Squeeze the shells gently from opposite edges at the wider end, creating a small gap. Insert a small sharp knife between the two shells and prise open slightly, taking care not to break them (the idea is to open them slightly, not fully, and for the mussels to stay in their shells). Cut through the foot of the mollusc where it is attached to the shell.
- Spoon a generous amount of the rice mixture into each mussel, then gently close the shells and wipe away any excess filling. Add the mussels to one or two large pans, add ½ cup boiling water to each, cover, return to boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until mussels are just tender. Remove from the heat, uncover and allow the mussels to cool in the pan.
- Serve the mussels at room temperature, or chill for an hour. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
2. Black mussels are generally used for this dish, however any other variety will be suitable.
3. Raisins can be used in place of the currants.