Bosphorus mussel stew


The mussels in the Bosphorus in front of Emin’s house were large, plump and deep orange, yet sweet and tender. On a warm day in his garden we ate a cold stew of mussels something like this - Emin called it a salad. You can serve it hot or cold, but not chilled.


  • 500-600 g aubergines
  • lemon juice or wine vinegar for sprinkling
  • 1 kg fresh mussels
  • 300 ml water
  • 250 g small red onions
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 rounded tablespoons tomato purée
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 rounded tablespoon pine kernels
  • good handful of dill leaves
  • sea salt, black pepper


Cut the aubergines across into fairly thick slices and then halve the slices, sprinkling them with lemon juice or wine vinegar as you do so. Rub all over with salt and put into a colander in the sink.

Wash the mussels and scrub them if they are dirty. Pour the water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Add the mussels, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for about 2 minutes until all the shells have opened. Pour the liquid from the mussels into a fairly large flameproof casserole. Extract the mussels from their shells and put them into a bowl, discarding any that haven’t opened. Cover and set aside.

Rinse the aubergines under cold running water to remove the salt. Peel the onions and slice finely into rings. Peel the garlic and slice finely across.

Bring the mussel liquid up to the boil and add the aubergines, onions, garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, olive oil and a generous sprinkling of black pepper. Stir to mix, then cover the casserole and simmer as gently as possible on the hob for about 40 minutes, stirring now and then.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding salt only if needed. Add the mussels to the casserole and then take off the heat.

Put a small dry frying pan over the heat, toss in the pine kernels and toast for a minute to brown, then tip them into the dish.

Chop the dill and throw it into the mussel stew as you serve it, or if eating cold, stir the dill in when the dish has cooled and trickle a little more olive oil over the top.