These mussels are stuffed with a fragrant and flavorful east meets west rice mixture. They are typical of the Adriatic and Aegean coasts and particularly popular in Turkey, along the Black Sea.
- 24 large mussels, cleaned and debeareded
- ¼ cup currants
- ½ cup short-grain rice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 large onions, finely diced
- 2 slice garlic, peeled and minced
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tomato, grated
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup dill, chopped
- ¼ cup flat-leafed parsley leaves, chopped
Soak the mussels in warm water until they begin to slightly open. Working quickly, insert the point of a knife into the opening, cutting the muscle that attaches the mussel to the shell. Gently pry open the shell a bit; do not break the hinge. It’s a learned maneuver, so don’t be discouraged if the first few don’t go so well. Repeat with all the mussels, then rinse and refrigerate.
Soak the currants in warm water about 15 minutes, then drain.
Meanwhile, add the rice to a large bowl and rinse it well under running water. Discard the water in the bowl 2 or 3 times, then cover the rice with additional water and allow it to soak about 10 minutes, then drain.
Bring a kettle of water to a simmer. Heat the oil in a saucepan set over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, onions, garlic, nutmeg and cinnamon. Cook stirring often until the pine nuts begin to brown and the onions are translucent. Stir in the drained rice, tomato, and drained currants and cook about 4 minutes. Add the salt and barely enough of the simmering water to cover the rice completely. Lower the heat and cover the rice, cooking about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Add half the dill and all of the parsley, using a fork to break the rice apart and incorporate the herbs.
Transfer the rice to a large platter, spreading it out into as thin a layer as possible to assist in cooling.
To finish. Use a steamer rack or colander that fits into large pot with a lid. Add enough water to the pot to come nearly to the rack or colander bottom.
Spoon a generous amount of the rice mixture into each mussel. Pressing it closed as much as possible and clean off the outside of the shell. Stack each mussel into the prepared pot and cover them with a piece of parchment cut to size. Weigh the mussels down, keeping them as closed as possible with a plate. Cover and bring the water to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer and cook about 12 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and let the mussels cool, covered in the pot at least 1 hour before serving. They may also be refrigerated once they come to room temperature and served chilled.
To serve. Stack the mussels on a platter and top with the remaining dill. Serve lemon wedges on the side to squeeze onto each mussel as it is eaten.