If you wanted a glass of beer and a plate of fried food to soak up the alcohol, you’d go to a birane rather than a meyhane. The dish you’re most likely to find there is deep-fried mussels, where beer appears in the batter as well as in a glass.
The tradition is to serve the mussels with a tarator (dipping sauce) made with stale bread, walnuts and garlic. Our refined version includes the roe of grey mullet, which makes it a tarama (what the Greeks call a tarama salata ).
In Turkey, tarama is always light beige, because that’s the colour of the roe. I was surprised to find in Australia that tarama salata is pink—and then I learned that it is often artificially coloured. I do not recommend that you buy commercial tarama salata to serve with this dish. If you can’t find the grey mullet roe, make a simple tarator by replacing the roe with
First make the tarama sauce. Remove the crusts from the bread and discard. Roughly chop the bread. Put the bread pieces in a mixing bowl and add about
Sniff each mussel and if it has a strong smell, discard it. Place the mussels in a bowl and cover with boiling water. When they start to open (after about 5 minutes), scoop them out of the water. Using a knife with a point but a blunt edge, force open any shells that are not open enough and then pull all the mussels out of their shells. Snip off the beards and place the mussels on paper towel to drain.
Sift the plain flour in a separate bowl and mix in the salt and pepper.
Pour the vegetable into a frying pan, about
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