Whenever I think of Italy, the first thing that comes to mind is a big reunion – of family or friends- and an infinitely long table covered in all sorts of delicious Italian food dishes, from cold cut antipasti to steaming pasta dishes, all the way to a huge layout of traditional desserts. Yes, Italians are generally predictable with what they eat, but can you really blame us?
One thing you don’t generally think about, though, are Italians eating on the go, quickly, with no time to sit and savor their food. And yet, like most other cuisines of the world, besides our pasta carbonara and pizza margherita, we also have our beloved street food.
You may have heard about the famous Italian suppli – a Roman food classic commonly found in the region of Lazio, but also found elsewhere in Italy (with a slightly different recipe!). Strangely enough, the name originally comes from the French word for surprise, referring to the surprise which one would find in the center of these delicious rice balls. Once upon a time, the roman suppli makers used to surprise us with little bits of offal. Nowadays we mainly find the classic suppli made with a ragu sauce (some of you may know this as Bolognese) and with a heart of warm and stringy mozzarella.
While today you can find suppli in any rosticceria or pizzeria around Rome, years ago there were suppli vendors, walking around the streets of Rome at night, with a food warmer, yelling “Suppli!”. Up until the 50’s, there was a famous suppli man named Polifemo. He had his corner in the center of Rome from which he barely ever moved, with an enormous pot of sizzling oil and a big netted paddle he used to scoop out his freshly fried rice balls. Sounds divine!
If you find yourselves in the vicinities of Testaccio area in Rome, make sure you stop by 00100 Pizza. Their suppli were featured in the New York Times, The Guardian, and have just won the first edition of the travel cooking show, STREET FOOD HEROES. (Oh and if you’re on tour with us, no need to worry – we take you here to sample!)
Here’s the classic recipe for these little oval balls of goodness. Have a go at them and let us know how they turn out!
Ingredients (makes 6 medium suppli)
- 200g rice (carnaroli/risotto rice)
- 150g peeled or chopped tomatoes
- 80g minced beef
- ½ glass of wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium mozzarella (cubed)
- Breadbrumbs (for coating)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Vegetable stock (or boiling water)
- 2 eggs
- To prepare the ragu sauce, brown the meat in some olive oil, add the red wine and the tomatoes.
- Cook your rice directly in the sauce mixture, adding the broth or water. Salt to taste. Let this cook and thicken until the liquid has completely evaporated. If the rice seems cooked before the liquid has absorbed, drain the rice and place the finished risotto in a separate bowl to cool. Ideally, suppli are made with leftover rice from the day before, as the rice becomes sticky and the suppli hold together nicely.
- Beat the eggs and chop the mozzarella into little cubes.
- Grab a handful of rice with wet hands, place a cube of mozzarella in the center, and fold the rice around it to form a nice oval shape.
- Dip the suppli in the egg, and then in the breadcrumbs, making sure it holds together in the process.
- Heat the oil well (the perfect temperature would be about 180°C) and deep fry the suppli until golden brown. Drain and serve hot.
Looking for more Italian food recipes and stories? Read more on our Italy Travel Blog!