Walking on Lygon Street, Melbourne one day, Yi and I popped into a small restaurant for a bite and saw these golden balls on a plate. We ordered one, and I was ready for an unpleasant experience. To our surprise, the golden ball of rice, called suppli, was good and we both devoured the whole thing even though the suppli was as big as my fist and we were watching our waistlines.
Suppli al telefono or, from my non-existent knowledge of Italian, telephone rice croquette, is called as such because the mozzarella inside will draw into a string when you break and pull the suppli apart. The string of mozza looks nothing like telephone lines but I guess my imagination's just not wild enough.
Suppli is easy to make and and is a good way to use up leftover rice. I used leftover cooked Calrose rice (for making sushi) but I think any rice would do. Wey said "Smells like Pizza Hut!" when I was frying the rice balls and I was insulted (I've not eaten there in years) but I think what he meant was it smelt Italian so that's a compliment I suppose.
When we were in Tokyo, Ming would buy an onigiri (molded rice balls) every morning. Somedays it was with tuna filling, some days ikura (salmon eggs), somedays ebiko and so on. As I was eating these suppli, it occurred to me that suppli are the Italian version of onigiri, except they are fried and stuffed with cheese. Fattening but tasty as a snack, so do try it if you like Italian. If not, stick with onigiri.
Suppli Al Telefono
2 cups cooked rice (short-grain or arborio)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 T olive oil
100g finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 t salt + some black pepper
1 large egg
1/2 T dried oregano
1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
100g mozzarella cheese
1. Fry the garlic in the olive oil until it is fragrant but not golden. Mix the cooked rice with the garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, oregano and egg. Divide the rice into 8 portions or more.
2. Cut the mozza into 1 cm or smaller cubes and divide into the same number of portions as the rice balls.
3. Wet your hands (wet hands each time you work on a new clump of rice so that the rice won't stick to your hands) and squeeze one portion of rice firmly into a ball. Push a dent into the middle of the riceball using your thumb and stuff the mozza cube/cubes in, then push rice over to cover the hole and mould firmly into a round ball. Repeat with the remaining rice balls.
4. Roll the riceball into the dry breadcrumbs to cover all over. It is not necessary to dip the rice balls into beaten egg before you roll it onto the breadcrumbs because your wet hands will moisten the rice balls.
5. Heat 4 to 5 cups of oil in a wok or small pot and fry the riceballs in batches. Fry until the rice is golden-brown and crispy.
Note: this is not authentic but I'm thinking that if you fry some bacon bits with the garlic and add some tasty cheddar (in this case, don't add the salt) to the rice, it will be tastier.