This appetizer was inspired by something we had at Taverna Estia** near Naples in Italy. Deep fried mozzarella is a common appetizer, but here it is enriched in two ways. First, by including tuna in the filling. Second, by using almonds for the crust. (At Estia a mixture of almonds and pistachios was used, and it was enriched even more by serving it with a Japanese ponzu sauce.) It is a bit finicky to put the breading on these. The combination of flavors and texture is very nice. Here’s what I did…
For 4 servings
250 grams (8.5 oz) buffalo mozzarella
200 grams (7 oz) fresh tuna, sashimi grade
150 grams (1 cup) chopped almonds and/or almond flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
flour for dusting
lemon wedge, for serving
oil for deep frying
Cut the tuna into 4 pieces. Season those pieces well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Prepare more or less round shapes with mozzarella mostly on the outside and tuna mostly on the inside, as we would like to melt the mozzarella without really cooking the tuna. You could also make an incision in the mozzarella and insert the tuna into that.
Beat the eggs until they are smooth.
Take a mozzarella/tuna ‘ball’ and dust it with flour. Then dip it in the beaten egg and make sure it is coated on all sides.
Now coat with chopped almonds.
If needed to get a good seal, dip into the egg again and coat with another layer of almonds.
Allow the crust to dry.
Heat a generous amount of oil (at least 2 litres/2 quarts) to 180C/350F. When the oil is hot, carefully lower the mozzarella and tuna balls into the hot oil.
Deep fry until they are golden brown…
…3 to 4 minutes. As soon as they are golden brown, lift them out of the oil…
…and allow to drain on paper towels.
Season with salt before serving. Serve with a lemon wedge. It looks nice to carefully slice through the center with a sharp knife, so you can see the inside.
The mozzarella should be barely melted and the tuna should only be warmed through and not really cooked.
We enjoyed this with a dry white wine that was aged on the lees and then had some further bottle aging, so the wine was creamy and nutty.
Paella is one of the best known dishes from Spain, although it is really from the Spanish city of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast. The name “paella” simply means “pan” in Valencian, although a paella pan is called a “paellera” in Spanish. There are many versions of paella, some more authentic than others, which is why Valencians think those other dishes should be called “arroz con cosas” (rice with stuff). The main versions are Paella Valenciana (meat paella with chicken, rabbit, and snails), Paella de Mariscos (seafood paella with shrimp, mussels, squid, scampi, and fish), Paella de Verduras (vegetable paella with runner beans, white beans, and artichokes), and Paella Mixta (mixed paella with meat, seafood, and vegetables).