Monday, 28 July 2014

Traditional Arancine

I did a proper research on how to make these bad boys.  After countless cook books, blogs, online recipes, videos and my father's stories, I decided to give them a go and I succeeded.  Yes, pat on the back, Maria, pat on the back.  I just should've been more generous with the filling as it can be seen from the photographs..
 Not that I don't usually do such copious amount of research before I make something for Happy Belly *cough*.  Anyway.  These little golden crispy rice balls are amazing. They're Sicilian and in Palermo they're female (arancin-a) while in Catania they're male (arancin-o).  I thought I'd make them female as a dedication to my former Palermian colleagues in Berlin (Cate & Fede).  I remember they invited me for an arancina party and Fede had enough to feed a village.
See, it all started when I told my dad I was going to make risotto and then use it to make arancine.  He then turned to me and said
No.  That's not how you make arancine.
How do you make arancine then, I asked. And he told me that my grandmother would just cook the rice in water and then drain it.  Intrigued and bewildered, I then started looking for more recipes for arancine.  It's a very controversial thing you see.  Risotto or normal rice, egg or no egg, female or male and finally my father and I settled on this. 

This seems to be the most legit way of doing this.  See, risotto didn't exist in Southern Italy, and these are Sicilian, so it made no sense that these were traditionally made with leftover risotto.  Nonetheless, there are recipes using leftover risotto rice and it is acceptable. You don't have to stick to tradition.  But this is the real deal. 

This was also my first time deep-frying.  It was so exciting, I can't wait to do it again! Look how beautiful. Pat on the back, Maria, pat on the back.
Recipe Adapted from Giallo Zafferano and Giuseppe Deiana
Makes 6 arancine


150ml water
100g short grain rice
a small knob of butter
50g parmesan

1 tin of italian tomatoes
1 large garlic clove, peeled and lightly bashed with a back of a knife
50g of mozzarella, cut into 1cm cubes

breadcrumbs (homemade preferred)
200g flour
400ml water
pinch of salt
1L vegetable oil for frying.

Bring the water and butter to boil, then turn the heat down to low before adding the rice. Do not stir. Do not stir at all. Just wait for the rice to slowly absorb all the water, but make sure it's not dry. About 10 minutes.

Mix in the parmesan and leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile make the sauce.
Heat a tbsp. of olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat and add the garlic clove. When golden, add the tin of tomatoes. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and let it thicken for about 20 minutes. Season to taste.

Make the batter by whisking the water with the flour and a pinch of salt. It should be quite thick.

Spread the breadcrumbs on a large plate.

When the rice is completely cooled, take a small handful of it with your left hand and cup your left hand so that you form a small mold of rice. Take a tbsp. of the tomato sauce plus 2 cubes of mozzarella (be generous) and then pick up more rice with your right hand, also cup it, and lay your right hand onto your left hand and press. Now just squeeze gently and roll it around until it’s firm. Don’t worry if some of the sauce becomes visible. Place on the side and repeat with the rest.

Roll each rice ball in the batter, get rid of excess, and place on the plate with breadcrumbs. Roll around and repeat with the rest.

Heat the oil until about 180C. Test by putting a wooden spoon inside, and it should start fizzing around it. Place the balls inside, not too many at a time, don’t overcrowd it and fry until golden – just a few minutes. Then dry on paper towel and serve right away.


  1. I've always wanted to try these! I've always been a little wary of deep fried rice balls but you make them sound and look so lovely, I think it's time I give them a chance!

    1. recipes vary in terms of coating in beaten egg or batter but this batter way gets a crispier crust!! try them out! deep frying is dangerously fun ahahha


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