Lobster Arancini are a Sicilian delicacy! The creamy risotto rice balls are breaded and fried and stuffed with lobster meat. In Sicily, arancini is considered a street food, stuffed with a variety of ingredients such as mozzarella, peas, and tomato meat sauce. Sicilian Arancini are typically shaped like a pear, in spite of the fact that the name Arancini comes from the word aracina or “little orange” referring to their round shape. Most Arancini served in the U.S. are round. The Lobster Arancini are wonderful for a special meal like a traditional Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes. I like to serve them with a spicy Saffron Aioli dipping sauce or buttery Bearnaise. The best part about this recipe is that they can be made ahead of time for a party, and easily re-heated before serving.
Sicilian Lobster Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls) with Saffron Aioli Sauce
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tb butter
- 2 large shallots chopped
- 2 cups 15 oz Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1 cup white wine Pinot Grigio
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice or juice of half a lemon
- 4 cups lobster stock + 1 cup water simmering on the stove
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed
- 2 cups cooked lobster meat diced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs beaten & 3 eggs, beaten - in separate bowls.
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cups breadcrumbs half panko, half regular
- 1 cup flour
- 1 quart canola oil
- 8 - 10 saffron threads
- 1 tablespoon very hot water
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Juice one lemon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- To make the risotto: Heat the oil and butter is a large enamel pot on the stove. Add shallots, salt and pepper and saute until lightly browned. Add the rice and stir, cooking until lightly toasted about 3-4 minutes. Add the white wine while stirring. Add the lemon juice. With the heat on medium high, begin adding the seafood stock a little at a time, and continuously stirring, until all the stock has been used and the rice is al dente and creamy. Turn off heat, and mix in the parmesan cheese. Check seasoning and adjust if needed.
- Spread the risotto in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with baking spray. Sprinkle the peas on top. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.
- To make the Saffron Aioli: :Place 8-10 threads of saffron in 1 tablespoon of hot water in a small mixing bowl. Let steep for 5 minutes. Add salt, black pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard and mayonnaise and combine thoroughly. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve to allow the flavors to blend.
- To make the arancini:: Melt the butter in a pan, and warm the diced lobster meat. Set aside to cool in a small bowl.
- Place the cold risotto in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 beaten eggs and stir in the cold risotto with ½ cup bread crumbs until well combined.
- Place the remaining breadcrumbs in a deep medium bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons water to the remaining 3 beaten eggs to make a thin egg wash.
- Place the flour in a small bowl. Arrange the breading station with the flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs.
- Grab a handful of rice mixture and form a ball the size of an orange. Make a dent in the center with your thumb. Place a few pieces of lobster meat in the center of the cupped rice. Next, close the rice around the filling and shape into a ball. Add a little more rice if needed. It is up to you on the size - large like oranges, or small like tangerines.
- Roll the arancini in flour, then roll in the beaten egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. Set aside until all of the risotto mixture has been used.
- Heat oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees. Add the arancini a few at a time, and cook quickly until golden brown. Do not crowd. Remove from oil and place on paper towel lined baking sheet to drain.
- Serve immediately with Saffron Aioli or Bearnaise.
- Note 1: These also can be made ahead of time. If so, deep fry them to light golden brown and drain on a paper towel. Refrigerate or freeze the arancini. To reheat, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in an oven at 400ºF for 10 minutes or until hot inside.
- Note 2: You can also fry them in a skillet with 3 inches of oil but it will take longer, and harder to keep their round shape. They will still taste great.
- Note 3: If you eat them them right away the centers will be creamier. If you reheat them, they will be a bit drier. I recommend serving them with a creamy sauce like Aioli or Bearnaise.