Mussels in Beer Batter

Midye tavası


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

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.


  • about 40-50 fresh mussels, shelled
  • sunflower oil for deep frying

For the batter

  • 4 oz/120 g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6—8 fl oz/175-250 ml beer or lager

For the sauce

  • 3 oz/90 g walnuts
  • 2 slices stale bread, soaked in water
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Rinse the mussels and keep in a bowl of cold water.
  • To prepare the sauce, pound the walnuts in a mortar. Squeeze the excess water from the bread and add it to the pounded nuts with the crushed garlic. (Or combine the ingredients in an electric mixer.) Slowly add the olive oil and vinegar and beat the mixture to a smooth paste with a little water. Season to taste.
  • Make the batter. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Make a well and drop in the egg yolks. Gradually pour in the beer, using a wooden spoon to draw in the flour from the sides. Beat until it is thick and smooth.
  • In a shallow or curved pan, heat enough sunflower oil to deep-fry. Dip each mussel into the batter and drop into the oil. Fry until golden-brown. Serve immediately with the tarator sauce.