Arancine, arancini, suppli al telefono, rice croquettes? I never heard of these words until I watched the foodnetwork's Iron-Chef America challenge a while back. The secret ingredient was the Mozzarella. I was very thrilled with this particular show because of the products the chef challengers were making. Arancine, Italian rice croquettes, or the suppli al telefono were some of the names mentioned. While I could not associate the words to anything I have ever tasted, I was just totally excited with joy to have found the food that I promised to myself at the age of five that I will find out what it is. Arancine is a childhood mystery that was implanted in my memory after watching this Sunday summer foreign movie festival when I was five. I only spoke Japanese, then. The movie was in Italian. I have no clue what the movie was about, except one scene - a boy met a father at a waterfront restaurant. They sat down, and they were chatting. Then, a waiter came and took the order. After a while, the waiter reappeared, and the boy was in joy clapping the hands. I was puzzled with his excitement. The waiter served a plate with round fried balls. The boy and father pick one up, and bite into it. Then, what I saw were two people stretching this fried balls as far as their arms would allow and with big smiles. Then, I noticed this long white stringy gooey thing stretching out from the ball to the bite in the mouth. That's when I promised to myself that I will get one of those some day. I am going to eat it and have fun eating it. Eleven years later, when I first ate Pizza, believe it or not - in Viet-Nam, at one of the church's Friday fellowship, I saw the gooey cheese, I was very intrigued, but I know that was not exactly the ones as it is not in the ball shape. Then, if you all recall, someone came up with the fried Mozzarella sticks that you can find in the frozen food section. But, again, believe it or not, I did not go for it. It could have been the right ones, but the "stick" did not impress me. I waited another 13+ some years when my culinary curiosity heightened and decided to get formal education on the subject. I paid more attention to the cooking channels, and it was while watching the Iron-chefs of America program - I saw the balls. I was convinced then that was it - the fried rice balls filled with cheese that the boy in the movie was eating.
So, here it is, with The Mozza cookbook in my kitchen, I fulfilled my promise. Thanks to the chefs who worked hard in the making of this "The Mozza cookbook" to assure the ingredients are readily available or can be made at home, I was able to make this arancini or the suppli al telefono successfully in my home kitchen.
Making Risotto - very interesting method. (double click on any of these images to enlarge)
Elongated ones enveloped the extra mozzarella sticks in the center.
The smaller size's cheese center melted easily within the time the outer crust browned. As for the biggie size - I think the solution is to use the fresh mozzarella.
Even though the crust is well browned, the mozzarella in the center is not quite ready.
I could serve the biggie size suppli al telefono as the main course with the vegetable side dish. Other than that, maybe my memory of the size of the gooey ball got exaggerated over the past fifty-years. After all, everything appear gigantic in the eyes of the five-year-old's world. Stick with the recipe instruction and make approx 1 inch ball for your first adventure, they produced the best result as prescribed in The Mozza cookbook. On the other hand, the traditional orange size ball or the small round shape will do beautifully.