Evrim Gunce presents a fortnightly segment, talking to chef and restaurateur Somer Sivrioglu about classic and regional Turkish meals. In this first segment, Somer shares his recipe for a street-hawker-style dish from Istanbul – aromatic rice-stuffed mussels.
- 1 cup cracked rice (see Note)
- 24 black mussels, scrubbed, beards removed
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 3 onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp ground pimento (see Note)
- 400 g can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup raisins
- 1 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- 2 tsp dill, finely chopped
- chopped parsley, to garnish
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.
Soaking time 10 minutes
Chilling time 1 hour (optional)
Wash the rice, cover with cold water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain the rice, then rinse and drain a final time.
Meanwhile, soak the cleaned mussels in a sink or large bowl of luke-warm water for about 10 minutes.
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Fry the pine nuts, onion, garlic and pimento over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until the pine nuts turn a light golden brown. Stir in the rice, tomato and raisins, and cook for 2 minutes, season to taste. Pour over enough boiling water to just cover the rice. Stir, then bring to the boil and cover. Cook over very low heat for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed. Tip the rice into a shallow bowl, then stir in the mint and dill. Set aside to cool slightly.
To prepare the mussels, remove the beards, then hold each mussel by its narrow end, with the pointed edge facing outwards. Squeeze the shells gently from opposite edges at the wider end, creating a small gap. Insert a small sharp knife between the two shells and prise open slightly, taking care not to break them (the idea is to open them slightly, not fully, and for the mussels to stay in their shells). Cut through the foot of the mollusc where it is attached to the shell.
Spoon a generous amount of the rice mixture into each mussel, then gently close the shells and wipe away any excess filling. Add the mussels to one or two large pans, add ½ cup boiling water to each, cover, return to boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until mussels are just tender. Remove from the heat, uncover and allow the mussels to cool in the pan.
Serve the mussels at room temperature, or chill for an hour. Garnish with chopped parsley.
• Cracked rice is more widely available at Pakistani food stores. Pimento is also known as allspice and is available at selected supermarkets, delicatessens and Turkish food stores.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto.