Street food is one of the most fascinating aspects of Anatolian cuisine; it is fast-paced, versatile, easy to consume and most importantly, delicious. It is often the cuisine on the streets that capture the heart of tourists, connecting with food, and drawing them into the Anatolian culinary culture. One of the most unique Anatolian street foods is undoubtedly Midye Dolma. It is a snack-sized portion of rice-stuffed mussels that are usually served on the side of streets, especially in the coastal cities of Anatolia.
Midye Dolma is usually served on small food carts where they are layered out carefully and tidily. The customers will walk up to the carts and enjoy the Midye Dolma while standing. It is usually paid per count, so customers can stand in front of the carts and have their Midye Dolma straight away, especially if they are rather peckish!
You can see Midye Dolma vendors carrying their portable trays to the busy street corners as the sun goes down, and people start gathering around to have a snack shortly after. It also makes a great snack after a night out and enjoying some drinks.
Eating Midye Dolma is very simple as you do not need any cutlery. All you need to do is to open the shells of the mussels, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on them and spoon them into your mouth right away using one of the shells. It is certainly a unique experience!
A good Midye Dolma consists of spiced rice and fresh mussels. Venders or chefs will half cook the spiced rice in advance and then fill the rice in the mussels, cooking them together. And the flavours of the ingredients will merge with one another.
To serve, vendors will have sliced lemons with the dish, allowing customers to squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto the Midye Dolma, adding acidity to brighten up the mussels. As a result, the Midye Dolma is a very fragrant, juicy, and slightly spiced dish.
Other similar dishes in other cultures involve similar ingredients, like paella from Spain, or seafood fried rice from different parts of Asia. However, since Midye Dolma is cooked inside the mussel shells, the steam inside allows the juiciness to be preserved in the shells of the mussels. Plus, since the mussels are usually served with a smaller portion of rice, it creates an engaging experience that customers will want to keep having more, even if they are quite full already. In short, this dish has a great combination of flavours, but it also has its customs as to how to consume it. It is a unique introduction to the Anatolian culinary culture and a fun street food experience.