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Midye Dolma (Turkey)


A tasty Aegean appetizer, stuffed mussels, or midye dolma, are an essential treat from the Turkish coast.  If you like sweet, succulent, salty, savory, this is for you. Mussels seems really daunting, but they’re not that difficult.


  • 25 - 30 large black mussels, cleaned and bearded

  • 2 medium to large onions, finely chopped

  • 1 oz. currants

  • 1 oz. pine nuts

  • ½ cup short grain rice

  • 1 tomato, very finely chopped

  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped flat leaf parsley

  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped fresh dill

  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste

  • 1 – 2 tsp ground black pepper

  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes or chili flakes

  • 5 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 cup hot water

  • Salt to taste

  • Lemon wedges to serve


  1. Start with the stuffing. Soak the dried currants in warm water for 15 minutes to rehydrate them.

  2. While they rest, rinse the short-grain rice under cold water, then drain and set aside.

  3. Drain the currants and put them aside as well.

  4. Sauté the onions in a 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

  5. Add an ounce of pine nuts and stir frequently for 3 minutes.

  6. Add the rice, currants, tomato, tomato paste, freshly ground black pepper, cinnamon and salt to taste.

  7. Pour in a cup of hot water and stir it all together. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. At this point, the rice should still have a bit of a bite.

  8. Remove from heat and add a handful of chopped parsley and a handful of chopped dill. You can make the rice a day ahead of time, which would help the flavors develop.

  9. Now for the mussels. Put 25-30 large mussels in a big bowl and rinse under cold water. Scrub the shells clean, scraping off any dirt that may linger. I find at this point that soaking the mussels in warm water for 15 minutes helps relax them, which makes opening them easier. Use the point of a thin knife to cut around the edges of the two halves of the shell. Open them, but don’t separate the two halves. 

  10. Pour the juice from each mussel to a bowl. Then, clean them by removing any beards or debris that is still attached. Any mussels that smell funny or are open before you start to clean them should be thrown away.

  11. Once the mussels are cleaned and cut, scoop about 2 tsp. of stuffing into each mussel (trying not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.

  12. Place the mussels side-by-side on a wide heavy pan, but do not layer them. If you need another pan, that’s fine, but use a single layer of mussels only. 

  13. Strain the mussel juice to remove any solids. Add the juice to enough water to fill one cup and pour this over the mussels. It should only cover them about halfway. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

  14. Remove the mussels from the heat and leave to rest so the rice soaks up all the water. These are traditionally served cold, but I like them warm.

Recipe adapted from

Photo by user E4024 on wikicommons

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