Sertaç Dirik’s Onion Dolma Filled With Brown Crab & Rice

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Chef and tastemaker Sertaç Dirik, 27, is at the forefront of London’s culinary scene. Dirik honed his craft in Copenhagen before returning to London to front his family’s acclaimed heritage Turkish restaurant Mangal 2 alongside his brother, Ferhat. Dirik stepped away from the kitchen of Mangal at the beginning of 2024, with eyes set on his next venture. Dirik has been recognised as Time Out’s Hottest Chef for 2023, Observer Food Monthly’s Young Chef of the Year 2022, and featured in Code Hospitality's 30 under 30. Here Sertac shares a favourite childhood recipe and bends the rules to give onion dolma a modern seafood twist.




I’ve grown up eating dolma, most often filled with rice, or rice with lamb. And one of the reasons I love this particular recipe is because it bends the rules in a sense, allowing you to fill your onion casings with whatever you please. In this instance I’ve gone for crab meat, but you could fill the onion with any favourite, as long as it holds together with the rice.

  1. Begin by sauteing the onion and garlic in a hot pan with the butter until translucent. Add the brown crab meat and continue to cook until the crab has caramelised, this should take roughly 10 minutes.
  2. Add the white pepper, sweet pul biber and paprika, and cook for a further minute. Pour in the white wine, and cook off the alcohol for two more minutes. Then add the tomato and lower the heat, simmer for five minutes, occasionally crushing the brown crab meat to break it down until you have a nice thick sauce. Season to taste with salt, a little of the lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil, and set aside to cool.
  3. Soak the rice for an hour in plenty of water, then strain, rinsing a couple of times. Add the rice to a saucepan with 600ml water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Let the rice stand for a further 30 minutes with the lid on, then leave to cool.The rice will soak up all the water so you don’t need to strain it.
  4. Once the rice is cold, fold the crab filling through it, adjusting seasonings with salt, a little more lemon juice and another drizzle of olive oil.
  5. Next, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Take an onion, and make an incision until you’re halfway through from top to bottom, so you’ve sliced just to the centre. Repeat this with all of the onions. Next, carefully put them into your pot of boiling water until the onions soften, typically this will take 10 minutes.
  6. Now you need to take the onions apart. Remove each layer with kitchen tongs carefully and place in ice water to cool down, then into a colander to drain. Continue until the layers are too small to be used. Fill each onion layer with about a tablespoon of rice and roll up. Place in a deep oven tray, and continue with this process until you have used up all of your rice mixture.
  7. Pour the 300ml of olive oil over the dolma, plus a pinch of salt, and roast at 190C (170C fan)/gas 5 for 20 minutes until lightly browned.

Delicious served hot or cold with cold yoghurt, Turkish or Greek, and pul biber chilli flakes sprinkled over. Watch Sertaç create this dish step by step in the video below.








70g butter

180g onion, diced

20g garlic, diced

450g tub brown crab meat

2 tsp pepper

2 tsp sweet pul biber

2 tbsp smoked paprika

100ml white wine

280g tomatoes or one large beef tomato, grated

20ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed

500g white long grain rice

6 brown onions, peeled, topped and tailed

300ml olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Pul biber chilli flakes, to serve

1 pot Turkish or Greek yoghurt, to serve

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