It’s easy enough to figure out what to do with left over rice. One needs to get a little more creative with left overs of fried rice or pulav. I sometimes have left over vegetable fried rice or vegetable pulav. Today’s Arancini Style Rice Fritters are a good way to use that up, and they’re really easy to make.
Arancini are Italian or Sicilian fritters made of small stuffed risotto balls that are coated in egg, dredged in breadcrumbs, and deep fried till golden and crisp. They get their name from the word for “small oranges” because of their appearance. They’re also known as Suppli. I understand that they’re occasionally referred to as “arancini di riso al telefono”. This refers to the long string formed by the mozarella when the arancini is broken and pulled apart!
Round Arancini tend to be filled with ragu, mozzarella and peas while the cone shaped Arancini usually have cheese. There’s no hard and fast rule about this though. They can be served plain or with a tomato based sauce.
Arancini are made with risotto which is generally made with sticky Arborio rice. This stickiness helps when trying to shape the rice into balls for Arancini. We generally don’t use sticky rice to make Pulav or Fried Rice. So then, I would suggest steam cooking the left over rice a bit to make it softer. Mash it a bit. Add the cheese once it has cooled down and then shape into balls. If you’re going to cook rice especially to make these Arancini Style Rice Fritters, then use a short or medium grain starchy rice.
I call these Arancini Style Rice Fritters and not just Arancini for a reason. For one, they’re not made with Arborio rice. They’re not filled with anything, but are just made with vegetable fried rice and cheese. I’m not a fan of stringy cheese in anything, including pizza. So these fritters have a mix of grated Cheddar and processed cheese. As you can see, they’re far from authentic. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not good.
I’m not sharing a recipe as such for these Rice Fritters as I really do not have one. Use the list of ingredients and customize them to your taste and availability of ingredients. You can use grated mozzarella cheese if you prefer. Season the rice with spices of your choice before shaping them. Use day old rice for better results. Dampen your hands in cold water before shaping the rice into balls if required. Refrigerate the shaped rice balls for a couple of hours at least. They will hold shape much better when you’re coating them in flour slurry and bread crumbs.
I prefer to not to use egg for coating or egg wash as I don’t like the “eggy” taste. So I use a flour and water slurry. Make your own bread crumbs as that coats better and produces really good texture and crispness. Tear a few slices of day old white bread into small pieces. Run them in your blender jar or food processor till they look like Panko (flaky Japanese style) bread crumbs.
You can serve these Arancini Style Rice Fritters as they are or with a sauce. Pick your sauce according to taste. If you use Indian spices, you can serve them with a spicy green chutney and sweet and sour tamarind chutney, or even ketchup.
Arancini Style Rice Fritters
For the Rice Balls :
- Leftover vegetable fried rice
- Grated cheese mozzarella or a mix of cheese
- Seasoning and spices of choice
For the Slurry/ Thin Batter:
- All-purpose flour
- Salt to taste
For Coating :
- Panko style breadcrumbs
For Deep Frying :
- The rice should be cold, not warm. As mentioned earlier, if you’re not using sticky rice steam cook the rice till soft and mash it a bit. Then let it cool. Start by mixing together the rice, grated cheese and seasoning and spices of choice. Shape into small balls using your palm and fingers. Refrigerate for about 2 hours at least.
- To make the Panko style bread crumbs, tear a few slices of day old white bread into small pieces. Run them in your blender jar or food processor till they look like Panko (flaky Japanese style) bread crumbs.
- When ready to make the fritters, heat oil in a wok or pot. Mix together in a bowl some flour and enough water to make a thin slurry of coating consistency. You do not want a very thick coating of batter but thick enough that the bread crumbs stick.
- Dip each rice ball in the slurry and then roll in the bread crumbs. Fry, three or four at a time, till they become a uniform golden brown and are crisp. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or with a sauce.