Rice balls with saltfish
When Stew and I were newly wedded and BC (before children), we traveled often. One Valentine’s weekend, our wandering feet took us to the Eternal City, Rome. We arrived on a Friday morning and left early Monday morning. Although the trip was short, we made the best out of it while touring and sampling lots of delicious foods. One of the foods we were introduced to was arancini, which in this blog, I’ll refer to as rice balls.
Filled with the most delicious meat sauce and mozzarella cheese, they weren’t only an explosion of mouthwatering flavors but also accompanied by a satisfying crunch. To me, that crispy crunch was unusual for a rice dish, and it left a lasting impression on my tastebuds.
Not particularly famous outside of Italy, Arancini looks like a big rice ball, about the size of an orange (the Italian world arancia means “orange”) – whose center is filled with a savory mixture. Typical fillings include meat sauce with peas, prosciutto, and cheeses like provolone or mozzarella eggplant and tomatoes.
Rice is one of the few foods that, while grown and eaten worldwide, has managed to maintain a strong, unique identity in areas around the world— think of Asian rice bowls, Spanish paella, Italian risotto, Indian biryani, and Caribbean rice and peas. Yet due to its universal appeal, it also has the ability to be modified.
I felt that a small adaptation of the recipe would work great in Dominican cuisine. I wanted to add salted cod (saltfish/codfish) as a filling since the saltiness of the fish juxtaposition with the softness of the interior and crunchy exterior, would create a great symphony of flavors and textures. And since this isn’t an authentic Italian arancini, I’ll continue to refer to it as rice ball.
What a lovely dish with a delicious surprise on the inside! As I mentioned, I use codfish or saltfish buljaw for the filling. You can see recipe here.
Here’s how I made my version of rice balls. Hope you enjoy my rice balls stuffed with saltfish.
Rice balls with saltfish
- Frying pan
- Ice cream scoop or small measuring cup
- container of cooked rice Boil rice with salt and olive oil
- saltfish/codfish buljaw saltfish boiled and sauteed with onions, turmeric, parsley, green onions, peppers. See recipes
- 1 cup flour
- 1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- 3 cups vegetable oil
- Let cooked rice cool and rest for at least half an hour.
- With wet hands, shape the rice into semi balls.
- Get the codfish ready to fill up the rice balls
- Then make a small indentation and fill it with sautéed saltfish
- Close up the opening and repeat this for all your balls
- Roll the balls in flour
- Dip them in a bowl of beaten eggs
- Top it with panko breadcrumbs.
- Fry the ball in a saucepan filled with oil until they are crisp on the outside.