One of the most popular street delicacies of Turkey is undoubtedly stuffed mussels. It is also one of the most worrisome ones. It is quite possible to witness that it is sold in problematic places and conditions in terms of both hygiene and health. Stuffed mussels have never been a favorite food for me. The suspicion aroused by the conditions in which it was sold also made me never regret it.
But my husband loves stuffed mussels, unlike me. After moving to Spain one of the things that he started to miss and one of the things he ate when we went to Turkey was stuffed mussels. So he started to want me to make it at home. I said “I can do it, but first I have to taste it in the best place.” Our next time we go to Turkey we went to eat at a place he likes. I tasted it and said, “Okay, I can do that. I just need to make the worst stuffed rice in the world and stuff it into mussels.” I am not an expert on stuffed mussels, but I think I have experience to express an opinion about the rice stuffing. However, no experience is needed to understand that the stuffed mussels we ate had a terrible rice stuffing. A person who has only eaten real rice stuffing once in his life can understand that it is not just about black pepper and rice. I do not expect much attention to a food that is not eaten with a sober mind in a mass production place, but they could at least some onions in it.
As a result, after several attempts on my return to Spain, I created the most suitable filling formula for stuffed mussels. I am aware that I always focus on the rice stuffing, but there is no other trick or a method that requires knowledge or talent for stuffed mussels. You can make the most delicious stuffed mussels in the world with a delicious rice stuffing. In order for your rice stuffing to be delicious, you must have cinnamon and allspice with black pepper in it, but none of them should suppress the other, all of them should create that special flavor.
By the way, it is worth noting that the recipe for rice stuffing here is a specially prepared rice stuffing for stuffed mussels. If you want to make a rice stuffing for chicken or turkey, I recommend you to use the recipe I linked above.
Let’s say a few words about cleaning the mussels. The most distracting part of making stuffed mussels is cleaning the mussels. You should clean the algae outside, or the sand or corals that might break off and get mixed up while cooking, by rubbing with dishwasher wire or, if necessary, by scraping with a knife. If there are already opened ones, do not use and throw them away. Apart from the mussels, there is a piece of seaweed resembling to a beard. This piece is what allows the mussels to hold onto the ground where they are lodged. You can pull this from the outside with a knife. But it may still contain some pieces inside. Therefore, after opening the mussels, cut off the part of the beard that may have remained in it with a knife. Other than that, there is nothing you need to do. Just fill and cook them.
- 1 kg of mussels,
- 1 small onion,
- 1/4 cup of rice, washed and drained,
- 1/8 teaspoon tomato paste,
- 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper,
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice,
- 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon,
- Salt to taste,
- 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil,
- For the stuffing, chop the onion finely,
- Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion and srit fry until soft,
- Add tomato paste and mix,
- Add the rice and mix,
- Add the spices and salt and mix,
- Add 1/2 cup of boiling water and mix,
- Cover and cook until soft (add extra water if necessary),
- Wash the outside of the mussels thoroughly by rubbing them with dishwashing wire and using a knife if necessary,
- Use a knife to pull the thread-like piece (beard) hanging from the inside out,
- Open the inside by inserting the tip of a sharp knife from the straight edge and passing the blade all around the edge,
- Cut off the remaining beard part in the middle,
- Put half a teaspoon of the stuffing mixture you prepared into the mussels and press to cover,
- Arrange mussels in a pan,
- Add enough water to cover the bottom and close the lid,
- Cook on low heat until the water is absorbed and the color of the mussels changes,
- Serve cold with lemon.