Polpette di Tonno con Fiore di Finocchio

We only spent a few days in Palermo at the end of our trip last year, and we were surprised how much we liked it. We stayed in a small hotel called Palazzo Pantaleo in the heart of the old city, so we could walk everywhere. Palermo has several street markets, and Il Capo, known for seafood, was our favorite. Without a kitchen, I couldn’t buy much, but one of the fish vendors had cooked a few things from the day’s catch, and I munched on tuna meatballs sort of like these.

Basically fish fritters, I make mine with leftover cooked albacore if I can, but good canned tuna works just as well. Buy local (for me, that’s Oregon) Pacific albacore canned in its own juice (and don’t drain it off!).

Flake the fish (and the juice from the can if using good canned albacore) in a bowl. For each cup or so of fish (roughly a can’s worth), mix in an egg, a chopped shallot, about a tablepoon of bread crumbs, pinch of salt, and a teaspoon or so of fennel pollen (the Tuscans call it fiore, flower).

Use two soup spoons to form walnut-sized “meatballs.” I make mine more flat than round, but only because it’s a little easier than rolling them into balls in my hands. Your choice. Pan fry in extra virgin olive oil until brown.

These are good plain but also nice in a simple tomato sauce.