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Turkish Batter-Fried Mussels with Garlic and Pine Nut Sauce


1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg, separated
2 Tbs olive oil
3/4 cup beer
1 slice coarse white bread, crust taken off
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 4 Tbs lemon juice
40 mussels
vegetable oil for deep-frying
lemon wedges and parsley for decoration

Batter: Sift 1 cup flour and 1/2 tsp salt together. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg yolk, olive oil and beer. Whisk mixture well but not to the point where it gets stringy. Let the batter rest for an hour at room temperature.

Pine Nut and Garlic Sauce: Soak the bread in 1/4 cup water for a minute. Squeeze excess water out and throw out the water. Toast the pine nuts and grind them either in a blender or with a mortar and pestle. Add the bread and garlic to make a paste. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, 2 Tbs. lemon juice and a bit of salt. Add this mixture to the pine nut/bread mixture, either still in the blender or with a whisk. Taste and add more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice. This should be thick and pourable. Add water if necessary, especially if you let the mixture sit, as it WILL thicken as it sits. It should, however, be served at room temperature, though it can keep in the fridge for a week.

Mussels: Scrub the mussels well and place in hot water. As the mussels just begin to open, use a knife to open them completely. Remove the mussels from their shells and throw out the shells. Keep the mussels in the fridge till you are ready for them.

Assembly and Frying: Heat the vegetable oil in a deep saucepan to 375F.

Beat the egg white stiffly and fold into the batter. Toss the mussels in the remaining 1/2 cup flour and tap off extra flour, so they are just coated. Dip the mussels in the batter and deep fry a few at a time, 1-2 minutes or until golden, turning to brown them evenly. Remove and drain on paper towels. Garnish with lemon and parsley and eat immediately with the garlic and pine nut sauce.

Yield: 6 Servings

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