Boil rice in 1 litre salted water, stirring occasionally over medium heat until water is absorbed (15 minutes). Remove from heat, stir in a third of the egg, butter and parmesan, season to taste and set aside to cool (1 hour).
Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan over high heat, add onion, cook until very tender (10 minutes), add garlic and cook for another minute. Add mushrooms, stir until tender (5 minutes), add parsley and Ragusano, season to taste and set aside to cool.
With damp hands, take a handful of rice mixture (about ½ cup), spread it out on your palm, place one-sixth of mushroom mixture in the centre, then close rice over to form a ball. Roll into an egg shape, set aside. Repeat with remaining rice and mushroom mixtures.
Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan to 170C. Dip balls in remaining egg, then breadcrumbs, and deep-fry, turning occasionally, until golden (5-10 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Serve hot or cold.
Note Ragusano, a semi-hard Sicilian cow's milk cheese made from stretched curd, comes from the mountainous province of Ragusa. Itís available from Formaggi Ocello and other specialist cheese shops; substitute parmesan or pecorino. For saffron aioli, combine a pinch of saffron threads and 1 tsp hot water in a bowl, set aside until colour has leached, then stir into aioli.
This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.