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Recipes from Turkey: Stuffed Mussels

Cheap and filling street food, made fresh in front of your eyes and eaten on the go, can be some of the best food you eat while on holiday. For those enjoying all-inclusive holidays, it may be the best opportunity to sample local delights. In Turkey, delicious street food is plentiful and your taste buds will be tempted by rotisserie chicken, fresh and cool slices of watermelon or salted cucumber, barbequed fish sandwiches and roast corn on the cob, but nothing is more divine than these fresh mussels stuffed with rice and lemon.

The great thing about mussels is that they are delicious, simple and make a big impression. Food blogger Greg Henry of SippitySup created this recipe for midye dolma, or stuffed mussels. These street treats are popular all over the region, from the Adriatic to the Black Sea, but these are served Istanbul-style.

  • 24 cleaned mussels
  • 1⁄4 cup currants
  • 1⁄4 cup pine nuts
  • 1⁄2 cup short-grain rice
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1⁄4 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1⁄2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 tomato (rub against a coarse grater to create a pulp)
  • 1⁄4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1⁄4 cup dill, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup flat-leafed parsley, chopped
  1. Cover currants with warm water and set aside. Rinse rice well under running water, then cover with warm water and set aside as well.
  2. To open the mussels, soak them in warm water until they begin to open. Pry them open (slightly) with a knife and slice through the bit where the mussel attaches to the shell. Once finished, rinse the mussels and stick them in the fridge.
  3. Drain the rice and currants, and set the kettle to boil.
  4. Place the oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and add onion, garlic, pine nuts and spices. Stir until onions are translucent, and add rice, currants and grated tomato – cook for four minutes. Add salt, and boiling water just to cover.
  5. Lower the heat and cook rice until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Take off the heat, add herbs and fluff with a fork – allow to cool.
  6. Place a steamer rack or colander into a stockpot and add water up to just below the rack.
  7. Once the rice is cool, place a spoonful of rice into each mussel – press closed and place in the pot. Make sure they stay closed in the pot by placing a small plate in the pot, atop the mussels. Cover and bring to a simmer for 12 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and let cool, covered, for an hour.
  9. Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!