This Venetian fried meatball recipe comes from Emiko's book, Cinnamon and Salt (£20, Hardie Grant).

Emiko says: "The deep-fried meatballs at Venice’s Alla Vedova are legendary. I will never forget my first taste of them. Thanks to these, Alla Vedova is considered a culinary institution. Any cookbook that speaks of Venice offers a version inspired by them, although the original is a closely guarded secret and every recipe I’ve seen is different. Personally, I think the best way to enjoy them is at Alla Vedova. But making these and enjoying them piping hot as they come out of the frying pan comes a close second."

This is a recipe that Emiko shared as part of his guide to Venetian cuisine. Check it out to learn about the varied cuisine of this historic Italian city, including sweet and sour sardines and carrot mostarda.


  • 1 large potato
  • 1-2 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 4 tbsp whole milk
  • 100g mortadella
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • a few sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 450g minced beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 50g dried breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil, for frying


  • STEP 1

    Boil the potato until a fork easily goes through it, then peel and mash. Set aside in a large bowl.

  • STEP 2

    In a separate bowl, soak the bread in the milk for a few minutes, then squeeze out the excess milk and add the bread to the mashed potato.

  • STEP 3

    In a food processor, or finely chopping by hand, mince together the mortadella, garlic and parsley. Put in a large bowl with the mashed potato.

  • STEP 4

    Add the beef, egg and parmesan, and season with 1 tsp of salt and some pepper. Mix everything well with your hands, then roll into 24 golf ball-sized balls and set them on a tray until they are all shaped.

  • STEP 5

    Put the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl, then roll the meatballs through them to coat entirely but lightly.

  • STEP 6

    Fill a deep frying pan with 4-5cm deep of oil. Heat over a medium heat until it reaches 170C or the oil is visibly shimmering and the end of a wooden spoon dipped in is immediately surrounded by tiny bubbles, lower in the meatballs (you should do it in batches) and cook for 4-5 minutes or until deep brown all over. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle immediately with salt to taste.

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