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Rice Fritters. Recipe

Rice fritters, also known as arancini or rice balls, have a long and fascinating history. These delicious treats originated in Sicily, Italy, and have since become popular all over the world. The recipe has evolved over time, but the basic concept of using cooked rice to create a tasty fritter remains the same.

Fun fact: The name "arancini" actually translates to "little oranges" in Italian, which refers to their shape and color resembling that of a small orange. Interestingly, this name is used primarily in Sicily, while in other parts of Italy, they are often called "supplì" or "supplì al telefono," which means "telephone wires" because of the long, stringy cheese that melts when you bite into them.

To make rice fritters, you will need the following ingredients:

- 1/2 pound (225g) of cooked rice
- 6 eggs
- 3 tablespoons of flour
- Grated lemon peel (from one lemon)
- Butter or oil for frying
- White sugar for sprinkling

First, start by boiling the rice until it becomes a jelly-like consistency. This can be achieved by cooking it in a small quantity of water and letting it simmer until the grains are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid. Once cooked, allow the rice to cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until well combined. Then, add the cooled rice, flour, and grated lemon peel. Mix everything thoroughly until you have a batter-like consistency. The flour acts as a binding agent to hold the fritters together while frying.

Next, heat a generous amount of butter or oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Spoon portions of the rice batter into the hot oil, shaping them into small fritters or balls. Fry the fritters until they are golden brown on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Once the fritters have drained and cooled slightly, sprinkle them generously with sifted white sugar. The sugar adds a touch of sweetness that complements the savory flavors of the fritters perfectly.

Rice fritters are a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or even a dessert. Their crispy exterior and soft, flavorful interior make them a crowd-pleaser at any gathering. They can be served warm or at room temperature, depending on your preference.

Now, let's explore some other similar dishes from around the world. In Spain, a popular variation of rice fritters is called "buñuelos de arroz." These are made by mixing cooked rice with cinnamon, sugar, and lemon zest, then shaping the mixture into small balls and deep-frying them until golden. They are often served with a dusting of powdered sugar.

In the Caribbean, particularly in Puerto Rico, you will find "alcapurrias de arroz." These are fritters made by combining cooked rice with mashed plantains, yuca, or taro root. The mixture is then filled with a flavorful meat or seafood filling and deep-fried until crispy.

In Asia, rice fritters are popular as well. In Indonesian cuisine, a similar dish called "risoles" is made by rolling cooked rice and filling it with a mixture of vegetables, chicken, or shrimp. The rolls are then coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried until golden and crispy.

In conclusion, rice fritters are a delightful treat that can be enjoyed in various forms and flavors across different cultures. Whether you call them arancini, rice balls, or any other name, these crispy and savory delights are sure to satisfy your taste buds.

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