Arancini–Fried Rice Balls

Arancini with spicy tomato sauce for dipping

There are so many ways to make fried rice balls. You can make suppli al telefono which are smaller and have tomato sauce mixed in, or you can make arancini which tend to be made bigger and with saffron flavored risotto. You can make risotto from scratch. You could make risotto from a box. Or you could take the unconventional approach below.

It all started when I was stuck indoors because of blizzard Jonas. I had nowhere to go and had to use the ingredients that I had at home. I was craving suppli al telefono from my favorite pizza joint, but we couldn’t get there because: #1 the pizza place was closed, #2 even if it had been open we could not get out because it was snowing and the roads where unplowed.

I opened the refrigerator and stared at a big bowl of leftover sushi rice that I had made the night before to serve with roasted chicken. I decided that I would turn that mound of rice into fried rice balls. These are closer to arancini, than suppli because they are bigger and have saffron.

Yes, there are many steps, but everything is fairly simple. And I promise it is worth it in the end.

For the rice

Here is a quick hack to make the “risotto,” and what I used for this recipe. I had a lot of leftover Calrose sushi rice, which is  similar to arborio, that I had cooked in chicken broth and wine for another meal. Any sushi rice will work here.

  • 2 cups Calrose or sushi rice
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine (or you can use chicken broth)
  • a few strands of saffron, if you have some handy (you can leave it out, it will still be delicious)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  1. Rinse the rice in cold water, until the water runs clear. This will take several rinses. Make sure to rinse it well, otherwise it will be too sticky.
  2. Place the rice, the chicken broth, safffron—if using, and the salt in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover and lower the heat to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes. After twenty minutes, turn off the heat, and let it stand covered for 10 minutes.
  3. If you are using it immediately for the risotto balls: measure out the two cups that you will need, spread the two cups of rice on a tray or a dish, and place in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes until it is completely cooled.

For the spicy tomato sauce

  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pour the tomatoes into a blender, and blend until smooth.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red chili flakes. Sauté for about one minute. Add the fire roasted tomatoes, the cayenne, the sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer uncovered over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use. You can make this ahead, refrigerate it, and re-heat when ready to use.

For the rice balls

  • 2 cups leftover risotto or rice from recipe above, cooled
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, beaten

1. Combine all the ingredients.

For the filing

  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken, finely minced (You could also use cooked ground beef or pork)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons spicy tomato sauce
  • 2 mozzarella sticks, cut into one inch pieces. You will need 10 pieces.
  1. Mix the first four ingredients, and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the coating

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

For Frying
Canola, sunflower, or other frying oil of your choice

Arancini before frying


To form the arancini:

  1. Set out three shallow plates: one for the flour, one for the egg, and one for the breadcrumbs.
  2. With the rice mixture, form 10 rice balls. They should be about the size of a golf ball. Take one rice ball, and flatten it on the palm of your hand, add a bit of the filling and one piece of mozzarella cheese. Wrap the rice around the filling, lightly roll in your hand to make a round ball. Form 9 more rice balls.
  3. Roll each rice ball in flour, then in egg, and finally in breadcrumbs. Be careful when rolling the balls in the egg, you want as little egg as possible to cling to the rice ball, let any extra egg drip off before rolling in the breadcrumbs. Set aside, and finish the other 9. At this point you can refrigerate them for up to 30 minutes.
  4. Heat oil in a medium pot, or a straight sided skillet. You want the oil to be about 1-1.5 inches deep so that at least half of the rice ball is immersed in the oil while frying. The oil should be at around 350 degrees. Fry the rice balls in batches, turning frequently so that they brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with the spicy tomato sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Arancini dipped in spicy tomato sauce.

Note: You could freeze the arancini on a cookie sheet after step 3, transfer them to a zip top bag once they are frozen, and fry them when you want to serve them. If the rice balls are too big, the cheese inside might not melt with just frying. In which case you can just place them in a 350 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes to ensure that the cheese has melted inside.

Author: onevanillabean

I have loved cooking and baking since I was 5 years old. It was the one activity that I would share with all my extended family. Like most people, I love traveling. I love visiting the markets, exploring unknown ingredients, and bringing them back home with me for inspiration. I find that recipes with simple and pure ingredients yield the best results.

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