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Homemade Stuffed Mussels with Aromatic Rice; Midye Dolma

Midye Dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice - a favorite street food in Turkey, easy to make at home

Midye Dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice – a favorite street food in Turkey, quite easy to make at home

Midye Dolma, stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, herbs and spices, is a delicious treat we love as a nation. A favorite street and beach side food in Turkey, we would get a plateful of stuffed mussels from the local vendor at the beach in Turgut Reis, Bodrum. My son would tuck them in straight and they disappear far too quickly. You would also be welcomed by the street stalls, selling stuffed muscles in Istanbul, especially at Beyoglu district. You gently break off the top shell, give a good squeeze of lemon juice over the mussel with aromatic rice then scoop this delicious mixture with using the loose shell as a spoon, just heavenly.

Local vendor, selling stuffed mussels, midye dolma at the Turgut Reis beach, Bodrum

Local vendor, selling stuffed mussels, midye dolma at the Turgut Reis beach, Bodrum

Midye dolma - stuffed mussels vendor at Beyoglu, Istanbul

Midye dolma – stuffed mussels vendor at Beyoglu, Istanbul

I was greatly inspired by Somer Sivrioglu’s amazing Turkish cookery book, Anatolia; Adventures in Turkish Cooking and encouraged to have a go at making stuffed mussels, midye dolma at home. My recipe here is slightly adapted from Somer’s recipe in Anatolia cookery book. It’s a gem of a Turkish cookery book with clearly written, wonderful Turkish classics and beautiful photos from Turkey; Anatolia is highly recommended.

. Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.

Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.

Some important tips on making stuffed mussels, midye dolma at home:

1.Opening the shell of the live mussels may seem a little challenging at first; soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels. Make sure to discard any broken or open shells. Tap any half open shells; do not use any that do not close immediately.
2. The herby, aromatic rice itself is really delicious and you can make it ahead of time. I made mine a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge, covered; it really helped for the flavors to settle.
3. Plenty of onions in the aromatic rice really go well; they pack a lot of flavor combined with currants, pine nuts, herbs and spices. I like to add a little red pepper flakes to bring a delicious but not over powering heat to the mussels.
4. Try not to over stuff the mussels with the aromatic rice, as the rice will need a little space to cook further.

Homemade stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma

Homemade stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma

I was very glad to have a go at this delicious delicacy, midye dolma. It was well worth the effort and we as a family greatly enjoyed these stuffed mussels. The juicy currants and crunchy pine nuts go so well in the aromatic rice with herbs- they are a marriage made in heaven with mussels.  Midye dolma would make an impressive, delicious starter or if you really like them like my 11 year old son, it may be your main course!

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

4.8 from 5 reviews
Homemade Stuffed Mussels with Aromatic Rice; Midye Dolma
 
Midye Dolma, stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, herbs and spices, is a delicious street food we love as a nation in Turkey. They are well worth the effort to make at home; these scrumptious stuffed mussels, midye dolma would make an impressive starter or if you really like them like my 11 year old son, it may be your main course!
Author:
Recipe type: Seafood; mussels with aromatic rice
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 25 - 30 stuffed mussels
Ingredients
  • 25 - 30 large black mussels, cleaned and bearded
  • 2 medium to large onions, finely chopped
  • 30 gr / 1 oz. currants
  • 30 gr / 1 oz. pine nuts
  • 110 gr/ 3 ¾ oz. / ½ cup short grain rice
  • 1 tomato, very finely chopped or grated
  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped fresh dill
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 – 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes or chili flakes
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 240 ml/ 8 fl. oz. / 1 cup hot water
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon wedges to serve
Instructions
  1. Place the currants in a bowl, cover with warm water and soak for 15 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
  2. Place the rice into a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Drain the rice and set aside.
  3. Make the stuffing first (you can also make the stuffing a day ahead of time). Heat the oil in a medium sized pan and stir in the onions. Sauté over medium to high heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pine nuts to the onions, sauté over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the rice, currants, chopped tomato, tomato paste, spices and season with salt to your taste. Pour in the hot water (about 240 ml/ 8 fl oz. / 1 cup) and combine all well. Bring to the boil then cover to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Rice will be “al dente” and still have a bite to it. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  5. Once cool, stir in the chopped dill and parsley to the aromatic rice and combine well. Check the seasoning and add more salt or ground black pepper if you’d like. Set aside to cool. You can cook this delicious aromatic rice a day ahead of time and keep in the fridge, covered. This really helps the flavors to blend in and phase your cooking time wise.
  6. 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. Place the mussels in a large bowl and rinse under cold water. Scrub the shells clean and scrape off any dirt. Using a blunt knife, carefully force the point of the knife into the gap at the pointy end of each mussel (if opening the shells become challenging, soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels). 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.
  7. Pour the juice from the mussel to 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. Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.
  8. Place the mussels on a wide heavy 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 center of the pan. There should be one layer of mussels, so if you have mussels left over, use another pan to keep on the layering. Place a wide plate over the mussels to prevent them from opening too wide while they cook.
  9. Strain the mussel juice through a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin (cheese cloth) three times to remove any grit. Mix the mussel juice with water, make it up about 250 ml/ 9 oz. / generous 1 cup water (have another 1 cup of water ready if you are using two pans). Pour this mixture to the pan; the water level should only reach to the half of the shell. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the mussels from the heat and leave to cool at room temperature. Then cover and keep them in the fridge for 30 minutes – 1 hour to cool further and for the flavors to settle. Serve stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, midye dolma on a big platter with lemon wedges by the side. They are best enjoyed eating with your hands, using the top shell to scoop the mixture out of the bottom shell, with a generous squeeze of lemon over the mussel with aromatic rice.
Notes
1.Opening the shell of the live mussels may seem a little challenging at first; soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels. Make sure to discard any broken or open shells. Tap any half open shells; do not use any that do not close immediately.
2. The herby, aromatic rice itself is really delicious and you can make it ahead of time. I made mine a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge, covered; it really helped for the flavors to settle.
3. Plenty of onions in the aromatic rice really go well; they pack a lot of flavor combined with currants, pine nuts, herbs and spices. I like to add a little red pepper flakes to bring a delicious but not over powering heat to the mussels.
4. Try not to over stuff the mussels with the aromatic rice, as the rice will need a little space to cook further.
 

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33 Responses to Homemade Stuffed Mussels with Aromatic Rice; Midye Dolma

  1. joyce June 1, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

    i used to make stuffed mussels often but i made them with a bread stuffing. one of my worst dinner party disasters was when i made them and forgot to add the egg as a binder. each time a mussel was opened, a mushy glop of stuffing fell out. i served lots of wine at that dinner!

    • Ozlem Warren June 2, 2015 at 9:09 am #

      Oh, my goodness, that must be a dinner party to remember!! But knowing you, I bet you turned it around ok 🙂 Have a go at this stuffing sometime, really delicious!

  2. Cuisinedeprovence June 1, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

    I discovered these stuffed mussels in a tiny little fish restaurant in Istanbul – they are delicious!

    • Ozlem Warren June 2, 2015 at 9:08 am #

      Merhaba Barbara, so glad you tasted the genuine article in Istanbul – I adore them! And eating by the Bosphorus makes it even more special 🙂 Ozlem x

  3. Peri's Spice Ladle June 2, 2015 at 4:30 am #

    A great recipe explanation, Ozlem, mussels can need instruction to clean and cook. The stuffing is delicious…I can just imagine standing near the cool beach and eating these! xxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren June 2, 2015 at 9:04 am #

      Merhaba dear Peri, the stuffing itself is really delicious, also called “ic pilav” in Turkish cuisine, can be used for stuffing grapevine leaves and such too. It is such a treat to eat these stuffed mussels by the beach at home, hope and look forward to that experience with you guys some day! Many thanks for your kind note, Ozlem xx

  4. Alan June 2, 2015 at 4:47 am #

    Mussels are much loved in this household and these look delicious!

    • Ozlem Warren June 2, 2015 at 9:02 am #

      Many thanks for your kind note Alan, we adore Midye dolma too – my son was in heaven when we made them at home! 🙂 Cok selamlar, Ozlem

  5. Phil in the Kitchen June 4, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

    I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a mussel stuffed with rice before. They sound lovely. In fact I don’t think I’ve made any sort of stuffed mussel for at least 20 years. I really don’t know why. Thanks for reminding me how good they can be.

    • Ozlem Warren June 5, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      Hi Phil, many thanks for stopping by and glad if it inspires – this is one of the most popular ways we enjoy mussels at home, and the stuffing itself is so delicious. The juicy currants and crunchy pine nuts go so well with the herbed rice – they are a marriage made in heaven with mussels, hope you enjoy having a go sometime.

  6. Turkey's For Life June 22, 2015 at 7:04 am #

    Mmmm, we love midye dolma. Never tried to make our own at home because we can’t buy mussels on the fish markets here so we’ll content ourselves with the street traders’ offerings. 🙂
    Julia

    • Ozlem Warren June 25, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

      Thank you for your note Julia, I was delighted to find good size mussels in my supermarket in England, they were delicious! They are such a treat at home and convenient, and I thought you may get the fish markets. Oh well, if you can ever get hold of them, you now have a recipe : ) Ozlem x

  7. Cecilia June 25, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    Midye dolma are delicious! However I have not yet had the courage to buy them on the beach, only night time on the street when it’s not so hot, as seafood spoil so easily. x

    • Ozlem Warren June 28, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Cecilia, we love midye dolma too! You are right, you need to be cautious about where you get them from, we always get them from trustworthy stalls we know. Hope you enjoy making your own, afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  8. Jamie Kelley September 18, 2015 at 3:56 am #

    Had these often we I stayed in Turkey for 4-months in the early 2000s. The family hotel in Selchuk would cook these before any Fenerbahçe soccer match. they were heavenly and look exactly how you describe. Thank you so much for this recipe that was my favourite snack in Turkey. That, and the fresh grilled fish sandwiches on the grille boats by the Galata Bridge.

    Love the advice not to overstuff. Exactly my tendency.

    Teşekkür ederim.

    • Ozlem Warren September 18, 2015 at 9:04 am #

      Merhaba Jamie, many thanks for your lovely note; really delighted to hear these stuffed mussels bring back some happy memories of your time in Turkey – fish sandwich fresh off the boats by the Bosphorus is another favorite of mine too! Selamlar, Ozlem

  9. Marie Fabiola BOLDUC September 3, 2016 at 2:16 am #

    Bonjour,

    I imagined a variation of my Andalusian paella that I love to make in the summer, but served as an appetiser in a steamed mussel shell. Then a croquet colleague told me that it was in fact a Turkish specialty, served as an appetiser. What a lovely, lovely idea.
    I looked for a reference to the authentic Turkish recipe on the World Wide Web under ‘Turkish appetiser mussels rice’ and found you. I will add roasted pine nuts, currants and some ground cinnamon to what I’ve already prepared to give it that extra Turkish flavour. I will serve the stuffed mussels warmed as an appetiser at my upcoming croquet tournament on Sunday afternoon. I know everybody will love it, at least those that can appreciate a little bite, because I’ve spiced it up a bit to my liking.

    I feel for all that is happening in your country at this time. I was fortunate to visit you many years ago when it was more peaceful. Your people are in my prayers.

    Peace and Love will prevail.

    • Ozlem Warren September 3, 2016 at 11:16 am #

      Dear Marie, what a lovely, kind note, many thanks! Do hope you enjoy the stuffed mussels Turkish way with your friend, I also loved your spicing up idea. This is a glorious appetizer with a squeeze of lemon, many thanks for giving it a go. I was at home this summer and happy to report it was fabulous and everything function as normal, do hope you can come back; so much to see, taste and experience. I indeed wish peace for the world world too, many thanks agai for your kind words.

  10. Shane December 11, 2016 at 3:35 am #

    Cooking it now, couldnt see when to add the tomato paste so ive added it at the same time as the grated tomato. Hope thats right. Will soon find out i guess.

    • Ozlem Warren December 11, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

      Merhaba Shane, many thanks for your kind note – you guessed it right, the tomato paste goes in at the same time with the grated tomato, many thanks for pointing this, I added to mine too. Hope you enjoy it, Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

  11. Maree December 25, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    Hi, I made these as part of our Christmas Food treats and they were a great hit. I will say though that have a whole new respect for the people who make and sell these for their income. I have dodgy arthritic hands and it was a massive effort opening and cleaning 2 kilos of mussels. Worth the pain but it wont happen often! Thanks.

    • Ozlem Warren December 26, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

      Merhaba Maree, many thanks for your kind note – I have a huge respect for you too to tackle 2 kg of mussels!! It is a bit of a labor of love, I am with you, but so worth the effort – for us it is a treat too and thoroughly enjoy it when we make it – not very often from this end either!:) S glad you all enjoyed them. Best wishes, Ozlem

  12. Bob June 23, 2017 at 12:45 am #

    What if I can’t find currents at th store?

    • Ozlem Warren June 23, 2017 at 8:37 pm #

      Merhaba Bob, you could in that case coarsely chop raisins in small bits and use instead, hope you enjoy Midye Dolma, Ozlem

  13. Rick Mier September 7, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

    Hi Ozlem… try this mussels in Istanbul 2 years ago with my wife, we were in Galata Tower dirinking some beers with turkish friends… we saw everybody eat a lot of mussels like in a hurry… so we decide to try it… best mussels ever..!!!!

    so I decide to try cook it hom, we live in Mexico and cant find currants.. what can I use instead..???

    btw, we fall in love with Istanbull.. what a beautifull place…

    Rick

    • Ozlem Warren September 7, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

      Merhaba Rick, many thanks for stopping by – so glad you enjoyed midye dolma and your trip to Istanbul, one of my favorite cities in the world, really is magica. For stuffed mussels, you may use finely shopped raisins instead of currants, I think it will work just well – enjoy! Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

  14. Ozlem Warren December 30, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    Merhaba Maree, many thanks for your kind link back to my blog, so glad you enjoyed Stuffed Mussels! I loved the photo of the little one in your blog, tucking into the mussels! Afiyet olsun, Ozlem

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