Are all rice balls gluten-free?
Not all rice balls are gluten-free, because not all rice balls use the same ingredients and cooking techniques.
Take the Italian arancini, for example, and let's ignore the filling for a moment. The Italian rice balls are just rice coated in breadcrumbs. Traditional breadcrumbs are not gluten-free, as they are a byproduct of wheat bread.
To make gluten-free arancini, you could either buy gluten-free breadcrumbs or use a different coating as we have done in our gluten-free seafood rice balls above. We have used a mix of nuts and seeds, which is not just free of gluten but also more nutritious than bread.
There are naturally gluten-free rice balls out there. Take the Japanese onigiri as an example. Onigiri use dry seaweed nori to wrap the rice instead of breadcrumbs. Nori is a nourishing alga used extensively in Japanese cuisine, and it's gluten-free.
If you can't eat gluten, don't forget to pay attention to what's inside. Even onigiri can pose a risk to celiacs if they make use of classic soy sauce, for example.
If you would like to bake gluten-free arancini but are not sure the recipe you are looking at is appropriate, use this recipe above and replace the fillings with whatever you fancy! We also have a recipe for vegan arancini you can use as a guideline.
Can you make rice balls with basmati?
Basmati rice is not sticky enough to make rice balls. If you look at recipes for arancini or Japanese onigiri, you'll notice they use glutinous short-grain rice, be it sushi or Arborio rice.
When we say glutinous rice, we refer to its sticky nature, and not to the gluten that celiacs can't eat.
Basmati rice is not glutinous. So if you want to use it to make rice balls, you will have to come up with ways to keep the balls from crumbling apart. While making our seafood arancini above, we found a way to solve this problem.
Although we have used Arborio in our recipe, we have added in some mashed sweet potatoes to enhance the flavour and colour of the rice. The result was an incredibly glutinous mix.
By doing the same with basmati rice, you could get a paste that is gluey enough to mould into balls. Sweet potatoes are starchy vegetables that excel at making creamy dishes, therefore perfect for this goal.
If these orange veggies are not your favourite, replace them with other fibrous vegetables. Good options are Russets and Yukon gold potatoes (best varieties for mashes) or butternut squash.
Are seafood rice balls good for dieting?
Seafood rice balls that use wholesome ingredients and are not deep-fried can be a satisfying snack for people on a diet.
Dieting is more than just eating low carbs. When on a path to lose weight, there are many factors to consider:
are we eating balanced food?
are we getting enough fibres?
are we cutting off added sugars and unhealthy fats?
In our seafood rice balls recipe, we took all of this into account and crafted a flavourful dish that won't compromise your waistline.
Dieting is about moderation. Everything (except celery, maybe) can have drawbacks if over-eaten. Don't be afraid to dive into the nutritional profiles of foods you eat; count the calories and fats you consume and stay within your diet recommended values.
We designed our seafood rice balls with health in mind, like we do any other of our recipes. Each of these croquettes has only 190 calories and provides almost 10 grams of proteins. Also, compared to the classic arancini recipes, one rice ball has half the fats and four times fewer saturated fats. So feel free to incorporate a handful of these crispy treats in your weekly weight-loss meal plan.
Can rice balls be baked instead of fried?
We think rice balls should be baked instead of fried. That is what we did in our recipe.
Fried food is delicious, but is it worth the price? Sure, eating a fried treat every once in a while won't be our doom, but oven-baking is healthier and can yield equally tasty and crispy results.
Whenever possible, we turn to our oven to crisp our bakes and snacks. We have an air-fryer as well, which we use for extra crunch - or when we are lazy and don't want to wait for the oven to reach the desired temperature!
For our seafood rice balls above, frying wouldn't be a good option anyway. We haven't used traditional batter and breadcrumbs but opted for a coating of nuts and seeds. This mix is rich with healthy fats, and the added oils from frying would spoil its delicate and nutty taste with unnecessary grease.
If you prefer to fry these rice balls, we suggest you use traditional breadcrumbs instead of our gluten-free coating for a better outcome.