½ cup firm ricotta
2 tablespoons finely chopped prosciutto, salami or ham
2 teaspoons each finely chopped rosemary and flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons walnut or hazelnut oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil for frying
½ cup good quality mayonnaise
finely grated zest 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
Put the eggs in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 6 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water. Peel, halve and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Set the egg whites aside.
Add the remaining ingredients to the egg yolks and mash with a fork to make a thick paste. Season well.
Holding each half egg in the palm of your hand, carefully fill the hollow with the stuffing then smooth the top level with the egg white.
Put the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 separate dishes and season the flour and eggs with salt and pepper.
Roll the eggs first in flour then the beaten eggs and then the breadcrumbs, pressing them on firmly so they are well coated.Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes for the crumb mixture to firm up.
To cook: Heat a small deep saucepan with 4 cm of vegetable oil until it registers 180˚C on a deep-fry thermometer or until a small cube of bread browns in about 30 seconds.
Carefully lower 4 eggs into the oil and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen towels and repeat with the remaining eggs, ensuring the oil is at the correct temperature before adding the next batch.
Mayonnaise: Whisk the ingredients in a bowl and season.
To serve: Place the eggs in a shallow bowl and serve with the mayonnaise.
Optional garnish: Hold small sprigs of flat-leaf parsley with a pair of tongs in the hot oil for a few seconds until crisp. Makes 20
Panko crumbs: flakey Japanese dried bread crumbs which create a deliciously crunchy crust. They are readily available from Asian food stores and some supermarkets.
Cook’s tip: Bags of frozen baby squid tubes are available at fish shops, good food stores and supermarkets.