Trullo: The Cookbook & a recipe for Mussel Fritti

When Trullo opened on an unpromising stretch of road in Islington in 2010, the area had a fairly lacklustre dining scene. Upper Street was dominated by chains and although there were good places to eat in the borough: the Duke of Cambridge organic pub, Au Lac Vietnamese in Highbury, the French Conran restaurant Almeida, there weren’t really enough of them. The chef Tim Siadatan, who was one of Jamie Oliver’s original trainees, set to change that with Trullo. This was a different beast, using British ingredients to make simple and brilliantly executed Italian dishes. The pappardelle with beef shin ragu fairly quickly became a classic to the extent that the restaurant takes it off their menu at their peril. We also have an enormous soft spot for their pudding list – it’s the kind of restaurant where you’ll want all of your party to have something sweet to finish so that you can eat your way through the whole list!

We can’t go to Trullo quite as often as we would wish, however, so are delighted that Siadatan has now distilled all his wisdom into a cookbook. This is a gentle, undaunting book of crowd-pleasing recipes. Nigel Slater, no less, has said ‘This is the book I’ve been waiting for.’ If you’re still unconvinced, here’s a recipe from the antipasti section for mussel fritti, or ‘popcorn of the sea’ as Siadatan calls it. Serve with aioli and a cold beer and imagine you’re in Italia.

Mussel fritti

Serves 4

about 50 mussels, cleaned (or ask your fishmonger to clean them
for you)
a glug of olive oil
125ml white wine
300g plain flour, sifted
300g semolina
1.2 litres groundnut oil
16 flat-leaf parsley leaves
lemon wedges, for serving
fine sea salt

To clean the mussels, rinse them under cold water, scrape off any dirt, pull
off the ‘beards’, and discard any mussels that are open once tapped or have
broken shells.

Heat a pan big enough to hold all the mussels on a high heat and add some
olive oil, followed quickly by the mussels and white wine. Give the pan a shake
and put a lid on, and cook for 3–5 minutes until the mussels have opened.

Transfer onto a tray (retain the cooking liquid) and allow to cool.
When cool, pick the mussels out of their shells, discarding any closed ones.
Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve, then leave the mussels submerged
in the liquid.

Get your pane ingredients ready: sifted plain flour, mussel cooking liquid and
semolina. Fish out the mussels with a slotted spoon, then, working in batches,
roll them in flour, dip back into the mussel juice then roll them in semolina.
Heat the groundnut oil to 180˚C (or throw a breadcrumb in – when it sizzles
and turns golden you’re ready to go). Working in two batches, deep-fry the
mussels for 2 minutes, then add the parsley for 10 seconds (stand back, it
spits!). Transfer to a bowl lined with kitchen paper and season with fine sea salt.

Serve with a wedge of lemon for squeezing.

£17.79 on Hive, £25 from all good bookshops
— Alex Peake-Tomkinson
5th July 2017