There’s a mussel dish on the menu everywhere you go in Istanbul. Two of the best we experienced were fried mussels on a stick and stuffed mussels with rice. This dish brings both of those dishes in a really tasty combination.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 40 g butter
- 2 French shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves, torn
- 1 kg mussels, cleaned
- 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
- 40 g butter
- 185 g (1 cup) cooked baldo rice
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp black pul biber (see Note)
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, torn
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 2 tbsp currants
Preserved lemon dressing
- 1 finely chopped French shallots
- 2 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon
- 1 tsp black pul biber
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 300 g (2 cups) corn flour
- 150 g (1 cup) plain flour, plus extra, for dusting
- 500 ml (2 cups) mineral or soda water
- sunflower oil, for deep frying
- taramasalata, micro herbs, small sorrel leaves and edible herb flowers, 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.
Chilling/freezing time 30 minutes
Heat a wide, deep frypan over medium heat. Add the oil and butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the shallots, garlic, thyme and bay leaves, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft but not coloured. Increase heat to high, then add the mussels (see Note), cover and cook for 30 seconds–1 minute or until they start to open. Strain into a colander placed over a bowl and reserve the liquid for another use. When cool enough to handle, remove the mussels from the shells, then remove the "beards" from inside the mussels.
To make the rice filling, melt the butter in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir until golden, then add the currants, cumin and black pul biber, and stir until well combined. Add the rice and combine well, then stir in the parsley and salt. Place a little filling inside each mussel, then place on a tray and refrigerate for 1 hour so the filling has time to "set".
Meanwhile, to make the preserved lemon dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.
To make the tempura batter, combine both flours in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand-held whisk, slowly add the water to make a smooth batter with the consistency of pouring cream.
Heat the oil in a wok or deep-fryer to 180°C. Working in batches, dust the stuffed mussels in the extra flour, then dip in the batter, allowing the excess to drain. Deep-fry for 1-2 minutes or until crisp, then remove and drain on paper towel and sprinkle with a little sea salt.
To serve, place a generous spoonful of taramasalata in the centre of each serving plate, then place the fried mussels around the edge and spoon a little preserved lemon dressing over each. Scatter with micro herbs, herb flowers and young sorrel leaves. Serve immediately.
• When you add the mussels to the pan, lift them out of the bowl and into the pan rather than pouring them straight into the bowl, or you'll end up adding a lot of residual water to the pan.
• A great way to use up the mussel stock is to pour the liquid into ice cubes and freeze them. This can be used in all future recipes that require fish stock.
• Black pul biber is a more mature version of red pul biber. It's slightly spicier and imparts a subtle smoky flavour. If unavailable, use red pul biber or red chilli flakes instead.