A speciality of Istanbul and Izmir, the freshly caught mussels are dipped in a batter made with beer, deep-fried, then served with a garlicky bread-and-walnut sauce, tarator. Hazelnuts and pine nuts can be used instead of walnuts, or the nuts can be completely omitted from the sauce. The smell of fried mussels and garlic wafts along the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn as they sizzle on the boats and in the streets, where they are often skewered on sticks and fried in deep curved pans.
Equally delicious are the strips of squid, kalamar, deep-fried in a plain or beer batter, and served with a tarator sauce. To soften the squid and draw out its taste, it is first rubbed with lemon juice, sprinkled with a little sugar and bicarbonate of soda, and chilled in the refrigerator for one hour. It must then be well rinsed and drained before being coated in batter and fried.
Small quantities of midye tavasi and kalamar tavasi are usually served as hot meze in restaurants, but large quantities can be cooked up as a main dish at home.
© 1995 Ghillie Basan. All rights reserved.