No offense to the nonnas of the world, but arancini--those delightful Italian bar snacks--have recently gotten a lot more interesting.
It's hard to beat the classic cheesy, gooey, warm ball of fried risotto, but a lot of chefs are trying, moving beyond traditional fillings with everything from wasabi to curry.
At NYC's All'onda, chef Chris Jaeckle folds squid ink into Arborio rice, then coats the rice balls with ground sourdough breadcrumbs and dehydrated vegetables. After frying, he dusts them with furikake, a Japanese rice seasoning, and red seaweed, then tops each sphere with a bit of sea urchin.
At Coup d'État in Minneapolis, chef Joe Rolle mixes duck confit and red onion marmalade into his filling.
Make paella-inspired arancini scented with saffron.
"Arancini are a gateway for people to try new flavors," says Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla in Austin. He adds puréed Napa cabbage kimchi to his mozzarella and Parmesan risotto base, then tops the finished arancini with Sriracha and wasabi aioli.
Ballers, right? We got inspired, and challenged our Test Kitchen to make a few international versions. They hit four countries along the way: Spain (saffron-scented, paella-esque rice with andouille and shellfish), China (scallions, soy and lap xuong sausage), Italy (a carbonara base with guanciale and peas) and, finally France for dessert arancini made of a sweet, creamy filling reminiscent of riz au lait.
Fry up one version, or go balls to the wall and have yourself an arancini party.
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