Mussels Stuffed with Pine Nuts

Midye dolması

Throughout the summer, families chug their way up and down the Bosphorus in their old wooden boats, diving in the shallows and amongst the foundations of the houses for mussels that they will later fry or stuff. Both Izmir and Istanbul are prized for their delectably aromatic stuffed mussels. They can be served as meze or as a main course.

Ingredients

  • 30 large fresh mussels, cleaned
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • bunch of fresh dill and parsley, finely chopped
  • 5 oz/150 g short-grain rice, soaked in warm
  • salted water for 15 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons currants, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Put the mussels into a bowl of cold water.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and soften the onions, garlic and pine nuts with the sugar until they take on a little colour. Stir in the tomato, spices and herbs. Drain the rice and currants and add them to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and pour over just enough water to cover the rice. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Leave the rice mixture to cool.
  • Place a colander or steamer in a pan with a little water. Using a sharp knife carefully prise each mussel shell open wide enough to spoon some of the rice mixture into it. Close the shells and pack them tightly into the steamer. Place a plate, weighed down with a stone, directly on top of them, to prevent them from opening, or tie a piece of thread around each shell. Cover the pan and steam the mussels for 20-25 minutes.
  • Leave to cool, and serve cold with wedges of lemon.
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