This Turkish recipe from Somer Sivrioglu is a moreish way to get more from your mussels. First, prepare cracked rice with pimento, pine nuts, tomatoes and raisins, then stuff your mollusc friends! Food Safari Water
- 100 ml vegetable oil
- 5 onions, thinly sliced
- 30 g pine nuts
- 100 g (½ cup) short grain rice, soaked overnight in salted water
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 30 g currants
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp pimento (ground allspice)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp capsicum paste
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 5 flat-leaf parsley stalks, leaves picked and finely chopped
- 3 dill stalks, finely chopped
- 2 mint stalks, leaves picked and finely chopped
- ½ lemon, juice only
- 20 black mussels
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Lemon wedges, to serve
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.
Cooling time 20 minutes
This recipe has been adapted from Anatolia.
For the stuffing, heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a touch of extra oil if necessary to make sure onions are not burning.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a frying pan over medium heat, shaking often, for 3 minutes or until golden.
Drain the rice and rinse under cold running water, then add to the simmering onions. Increase the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, currants, pine nuts, pepper, pimento, cinnamon, capsicum paste, half the tomato paste and 125 ml (½ cup) water. Cook for about 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
When cool, stir the herbs and lemon juice into the stuffing, then set aside.
Now, open the mussels. If you’ve bought the mussels in a vacuum bag, open the bag over a bowl to catch any liquid inside. Scrub the shells clean. Using a blunt knife, carefully force the point of the knife into the gap at the pointy end of each mussel, and slice through the meat so the shell opens with half the meat attached to each half shell – once you cut through the thick, round connecting muscle at the bottom of the mussel, it will be easy to open. Pour the juice into a bowl. Snip off the beards and, using your finger, remove any grit at the base. Spread the half shells to tear the muscle of the mussel, but leave the two halves connected. Depending on the size of the mussels, put 1- 2 tsp of the stuffing into the middle of each mussel and push the half shells together again.
Place a bread and butter plate face down in the bottom of a saucepan about 25 cm wide.
Place the mussels in the pan, with the tips pointing outwards towards the edge of the pan with the shells slightly overlapping (to prevent them opening). Build a tight spiral of shells in the centre of the pan. There should be one layer of mussels.
Strain the reserved mussel juice through a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin three times, to remove any grit. Mix 250 ml (1 cup) of mussel juice in a small bowl with the remaining tomato paste. Pour over the mussels, then drizzle the olive oil over the top. Put another bowl upside down placed on top, then put the lid on the pan. Place the pan over high heat and bring to the boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the mussels from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature (You can also keep them in the fridge overnight). Serve on a big platter with lemon wedges for guests to help themselves. The best way to eat them is with your hands, using the top shell to scoop out the mixture out of the bottom shell.
Photography by Alan Benson Styling by Michelle Noerianto.