This meze is inspired by the one of the street foods one finds in the evenings when strolling the Sokaks (streets) of Istanbul. They call these Midye Dolmasi or Mussel Dolmades as the shells are stuffed with rice and mussel meat.
The first time I visited Istanbul I would try everything offered by street vendors and the stuffed mussels were a delight to eat. Fresh mussels are inexpensive, easy to clean and prepare and if you follow the following rules, you have no fear of getting sick:
- Inspect your mussels, ensuring they are closed and if some are open – tap them to close and if they still don’t, discard
- If you see any mussels with cracked/broken shells, discard
- If you see any mussels that didn’t open after cooking, discard
Stuffed Mussels With Rice, Pine Nuts and Sultanas
(appetizer for 6)
approx. 30 live mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil + 1/4 cup (for rice)
1/4 dry white wine
1 cup long grain rice, rinsed
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup sultana raisins
1 tsp. tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups stock (mix mussel broth with chicken or vegetable stock)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon
- Place your cleaned mussels in a wide skillet and add the olive oil and wine and cover. Turn the heat to high and steam for approx. 5 minutes or until the mussels have just opened up. Remove the skillet from the heat and strain the mussels with a pot underneath to capture the delicious mussel broth. Strain the broth to remove any remaining grit and reserve.
- Take the mussel meat out of the shells and reserve both the meat and shells for stuffing (later).
- Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Heat your mussel broth and then measure in a cup. Top up with hot chicken or vegetable stock to make 2 1/2 cups. Pour your rice, remaining olive oil scallions, parsley, pine nuts, sultanas, tomato paste into a casserole dish and stir until incorporated. Add the hot stock and stir then place in your pre-heated oven for 40 minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked up.
- Remove from the oven and taste your rice, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the cinnamon, dill and lemon juice and fluff with a spoon. Cover and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Take a teaspoon of rice and pack into a mussel shell then top with a piece of mussel meat. Repeat with remaining mussel shells and arrange in a deep oval platter. Garnish with lemon and chopped dill and served chilled or room temperature. A glass of Ouzo on ice goes perfectly with this meze.
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