The recipe of Black Sea Midye Dolma is simple but the final taste is very delicious.

The key of importance is freshness and quality of mussels as well as very careful cleaning of them before usage.

Selection of the mussels requires only undamaged and fresh-smelling ones. All mussels should be tightly closed and any of them should be rejected if they do not shut when tapped.

Careful cleaning consists of three steps.

1) Scrape off any barnacles from the outsides of each mussel shell by the backside of the knife.

2) By the same small knife and against the thumb pull out and detach any hair-like beard fibers from the hinges of each mussel shell.

3) Scrub intensively each mussel from both shells’ sides under running cold water with a stiff brush in order to remove any sand and clean well mussels for cooking.

Keep carefully cleaned mussels in a big bowl with lightly salted cold water for about 2 hours or until ready to cook. If you keep muscles for longer than 2-3 hour pay attention to the salted water. It should be cold and may need to add some ice in it.

Course – Main Course / Appetizer

Serves 8

Preparation time – 3 hours Cooking time – 40 minutes

2 kg of Black Sea Mussels in shells big size,

1lt water

1/2 tablespoon salt

For pilaf – filling

2 cups rice, washed and drained

2 cups of hot liquid from cooked mussels

2 large onions

2 cloves of garlic

4 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp raisins, small ones or cut into small pieces

3 tbsp pistachios

1 1/2 tbsp dried mint

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons allspice

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground dried hot pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 lemon

Put the mussels in the pan and boil in 1 liter of water with 1/2 tbsp salt until slightly open. Just split a little so they can open easier later. Strain the liquid through a strainer and save.

Wash rice in the salted water and drain. Chop the onion very finely. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion and fry until soft. Add finely chopped garlic and pistachios. Stir well until the pistachios get a little red. Then add rice, mint, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, sugar and hot pepper and mix all well. Add 2 cups of mussel liquid and add raisins. Mix well and leave on low heat. When rice takes all liquid, remove from heat.

Stuff mussels with pilaf, leaving a little space.  Press to cover. Put the mussels into a pan. Pour in the remaining 2 cups of mussel liquid and 2 cups of water. Close the lid and cook over medium-low heat until the water is absorbed and the color of the mussels changes.

They are ready in about 20 minutes. Chill down. Serve cold, open and top with lemon juice.

Black Sea Midye Dolma traditionally served cold with fresh lemonade; it also goes well with a glass of white wine or beer.

You can enjoy Black Sea Midye Dolma with friends and family in #BlackSeaCuisine restaurants or enjoy at home as it is easy to prepare yourself.

Black Sea Cuisine is simple, tasty and inexpensive.