Stuffed Mussels is a delicious meze that you can simply find at any fish restaurant in Turkey. We call this little treat ‘Midye Dolma‘ in Turkey. It has many different herbs and spices in it. ‘Stuffed Mussels’ are the most famous beach food for us. You can see many ‘Stuffed Mussels’ sellers, who wear all white and carrying mobile stands, on the beaches of Bodrum city of Turkey.
Eating ‘Midye Dolma’ is not an easy task. There is a hidden and elegant way of eating these mussels. You first take off the top shell and squeeze the lemon on top of the stuffed mix and then you use the shell as a scoop to spoon the stuffed mix to get it into your mouth.
If you come to Turkey for summer vacation and want to try Stuffed Mussels, pair it with beer. They are the best pairing for hot Turkish summers. The below photo may help you to imagine it.
The Story of Stuffed Mussels
It is very strange that 99.9 % of the ‘Stuffed Mussels’ sellers in Turkey are coming from the Mardin city of Turkey. I said; it is strange because Mardin city is not located nearby the sea. It is located in the southeast of Turkey and the closest store is about 520 km away from it.
When I made research about why only the Mardin city residents are making and selling this delicious food in Turkey, I have learned the sociological truth behind it. During the economic crisis in Turkey in the 1960s, most of the Mardin city residents migrated to bigger cities to find new income opportunities and Istanbul was one of them.
Due to the residential fellowship among Mardin city residents, they mostly settle down at the Galata District of Istanbul. At that time; Istanbul Armenians were also living in that district too. Mardin city residents have learned how to make ‘Stuffed mussels’ from Istanbul Armenians and they spread this delicious taste all over Turkey.
Where to eat Stuffed Mussels?
You can find numerous Stuffed Mussels sellers both in the streets and at the beaches of Bodrum city. But if you want to pair it with a beer in a restaurant, I strongly recommend you to taste this delicious treat at ‘Midyeci Şeyhmuz Ustanın Yeri’ restaurant in the Gündoğan district of Bodrum city. The owner has started making and selling this magnificent taste before I was born.
- 40 pcs bearded and cleaned mussels
- 120 gr short grain white rice
- 2 medium onions finely chopped
- 1 tomato finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh dill finely chopped
- 1/4 cup currants
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pinch sea salt
- 2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup boiling water
Preparing the Fill.
Soak the currants in a warm water for 15 minutes. Then drain them well and set aside.
Wash the rice under cold water to remove rice surface starch. Then drain well and set aside.
Put the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan and add the finely chopped onions first. Then add the pine nuts and stir them until pine nuts color turn to brownish. Then add the finely chopped tomato, tomato paste, and spices. Stir the mix about 5 minutes.
Pour the boiling water into the mix to just cover the rice and stir them well. Bring the heat to the lowest level and boil it for about 15 minutes until you make sure the rice absorb the water.
After the mix cool, add the chopped parsley and dill on to the mix and combine them well.
Preparing the Mussels.
First, scrub the shells of the mussels with a stiff kitchen brush and rinsing them under cool water. Then pull the Mussel beard from tip to hinge. After that hold the mussel firmly and insert the clam knife between the top shell and bottom shell and open it slightly (not fully). Soaking the mussels in a warm water helps to open the shells easily.
Preparing the Stuffed Mussels.
After you open the mussels, strain the mussel juice into a cup. And then add 1 cup of water to the mussel juice and set aside.
Put 3 teaspoon of stuffing into the slightly opened mussel and then close the shells and wipe any excess filling.
Stack the filled mussels into a pan by pointing the mussel tips towards the upper part of the pan. Stack them close to each other to prevent tip opening while cooking.
Pour the mussel juice and water mix on to the stacked filled mussels. The water mix level should reach the half of the mussel shell. Close the pan with lid and cook at medium-high heat for about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat and let it cool at room temperature. Then cover the pan and put into the refrigerator for about 1 hour. Then it will be ready to serve.
Tip: Garnish it with lemon wedges.