We never met a recipe by food and travel writer Robyn Eckhardt that we haven’t totally loved, so her new cookbook is a much-anticipated treat. Dive head-first into this in-depth study of Turkish cuisine, and find a new favorite way to prepare all kinds of versatile ingredients. These Turkish rice-stuffed mussels are a great way to renew your love of sustainable shellfish. 

In this cold appetizer from the Armenian deli Tadal, mussels are stuffed with slowly caramelized onions, dried currants, and pine nuts. Caramelizing onions the traditional way, as is done at Tadal, takes a good hour or so of slow, watchful cooking over low heat. Instead I use a technique developed by Kenji López-Alt, described in his tome The Food Lab, that speeds up the process by starting the onions in melted sugar and adding baking soda with the oil to speed their softening. In the latter stages of caramelization, the onions are cooked over higher heat; adding water periodically keeps them from burning. The recipe is best done in stages. Start at least one day ahead by making the rice filling (the longer the rice is left to absorb the other flavors, the better it will taste). Then stuff the mussels (a task made easier if you have a helper to open the mussels as you fill them), steam them, and let cool completely, at least 9 hours.

Reprinted with permission from Istanbul and Beyond