Thessaloniki Mussel Rice – It’s Greek seafood at its best
Thessaloniki is the 2nd largest city in Greece. Situated 25 km to the north of the capital city of Athen, Thessaloniki is at the crossroads of east and the west and is undoubtfully the gourmet capital of Greece.
My mussel gourmet experience in the past have been far and in between. The mussel cooked in around covered pot in Brussel that we have lined up for 40 minutes to enjoy. It came with more than ten flavors like curry, red wine, and the single serving is about 1kg in the pot. It was more than 10 years ago. Last year, we visited my college mate Thomas on the island of Whidbey Island. He showed us that what’s covered the shoreline and are all mussels. Large and small all crowded the post of bridge walks. Yes, they are quite different from the frozen version in the supermarket. The rule of thumb of enjoying seafood is not to taste them far away from where they were harvested.
In this recipe, clams are used instead of mussels for its availability. In Taiwanese dish, clams match with noodle in a broth, in Italian food we have clams and white wine pasta, only Spaniards pair mussel with rice. This is what I like about this pairing. The juice collected from cooking clams is collected to infuse into the process of rice cooking embodied all clam flavor into the center of the rice. This is why this dish is so successful.
Dill is a good companion for seafood. If it is not in season, use leek+ green onions to keep the color scheme of this dish green and use star anise water to mimic the taste of dill.
Preparation 40 minutes
Overall cooking time: 50 minutes
Skill level: Easy
White wine 2T
Olive Oil 2T
White onion 1 medium chopped
Green onion 2 stalks chopped
White wine 1/3 cup
rice 1 cup
(long-grain is preferred for this recipe; a mixture of white rice, brown rice, and black rice is used here
Garlic 2 cloves finely chopped (the original recipe calls for 1t saffron + 1T water mixture)
Dill 1 cup
Lemon/lime 1 zest and juice
- Purchase medium-size fresh clams and clean them very well.
- Heat up 2T water and 2T white wine in a pot and cook clam till most have been opened. Discard the ones that can’t be opened and save the clam juice aside. When the clams are cold enough to handle, set 20 clams aside for final decoration. Remove the meat from clams and discard shells. It takes time but it is worth it.
- Take one 1T olive oil to sauté chopped onion and green onion about 3 minutes, add rice. Then wine and clam juice. Make sure you measure all liquids combined is about twice the amount of rice. Bring to a boil and simmer about 8 minutes till rice is about cooked.
- Add all clams, dill, and parsley and season the whole dish with 1T salt or to your taste.
- Add lime zest and juice before serving. It is for 4 servings. Enjoy while it is hot.
Use 1/2 cup of dill pesto made earlier to replace all seasoning step.
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