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Daring Cooks, Risotto

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

I’ll be honest I don’t really get the appeal of Risotto, it’s one of the items on a menu that I never order (squishies on the other hand zeroes in on Risotto like there’s no tomorrow). So upon hearing that Risotto was this month’s challenge I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it all and spent a good few days racking my brain to try find a way to challenge myself. Linda and Howie’s latest posts about Japan have gotten me back into a Japanese mood and I decided to incorporate this into this month’s challenge.

I present, Dashi Risotto with Assorted Asian Mushrooms topped with Seared Scallop and Inoki.

The Risotto itself

I was relatively pleased with my result, the mushrooms and Dashi base worked well together, the fishy woody combination a good match for the seared Scallop and the raw Inoki giving a nice texture contrast. For a bit for a taste hit I’d recommend infusing the risotto with another flavour, such as Citrus zest for a nice tang, or even truffle oil if you’re feeling a little decadent. If anything, I’m even less inclined to order Risotto off a menu now, knowing just how easy it is to prepare at home!

To make the Risotto I first prepared a base stock of Dashi, which I then used to cook up the risotto which I infused with chopped mushrooms.

Dried Konbu and Katsuo Flakes for the Dashi stock

A bit of research online showed that there is a Japanese variation of Risotto known as ‘Zosui’, however its consistency is more watery and much closer to a Chinese Congee than the risotto I was looking for. Instead I decided to use the dashi stock component of the Japanese recipe and stick with Aborio rice for my variation. Dashi is the base component for Miso soup and is made up of 2 components, Konbu (Seaweed) and Katsuo Flakes (Dried Tuna Flakes, also referred to as Bonito).

Various mushrooms, Inoki, Shimeji, Eringi

Staking out my local grocery store I lucked out on a pack of ‘Gourmet Mushrooms’, a kit containing pretty much every mushroom I was looking for. I love the fat stalk of the Eringi, it’s treelike appearance makes me feel like a woodsman cutting down a miniature tree. The Inoki mushrooms in the background looming over the rest were actually saved as a garnish at the end, and served raw with the rest of the dish to give it a bit of texture.

Totally random, but does anyone remember that episode of ‘Top Chef’ a few seasons back where Frank made an insane Mushroom Diorama for his quickfire challenge? I think this is my mini tribute to that crazy creation!

Dashi Stock

The stock can be prepared ahead of time, but I would suggest not leaving it in the fridge for more than a few days. If you’re in the mood for Miso Soup just make a little extra and put in a few tablespoons of Miso paste in afterwards! Feel free to add any vegetables you like to your miso soup, common vegetables are Daikon (Japanese Raddish), Carrot and Shallots.

Recipe adapted from ToiroKitchen.com and the instructions on the back of my Konbu packet :P

Ingredients

  • 1 10cm piece of dried konbu
  • 10-15g of Katsuo Flakes
  • 1L of water

Instructions

  1. Gently wipe the surface of the Konbu with a damp cloth to remove any pieces of dirt.
  2. Place the Konbu in your pot and let it soak in water for 30 minutes. Snip the sides of the konbu to allow the flavour to permeate the water.
  3. Bring the pan to a medium heat and remove the konbu before the water boils, the stock will become gluggy if you leave the Konbu in for too long.
  4. As the stock comes to the boil dump in all of your Katsuo flakes and turn the heat off immediately.
  5. Let the Katsuo sink to the bottom of the pan, can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
  6. Once the Katsuo has sunk to the bottom, strain your stock discarding the Konbu and Katsuo.

Risotto Base

Ingredients

  • 60ml of Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Onion, Quartered
  • 400g of Risotto Rice (I used Arborio)
  • 60ml of White Wine (Lacking wine in the house I substituted a splash of Chinese Cooking Wine)
  • 1L of Chicken or Vegetable stock (I substituted the Dashi here)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (I omitted this step, only because I wasn’t sure how the onion would taste with the Dashi stock)
  2. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
  3. Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
  4. Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width.
  5. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
  6. Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step. .
  7. Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.
  8. Once you are at this point, the base is made.

Once you have your base feel free to go to town, in my case I threw in a few handfuls of the diced mushrooms and set it simmer until the mushrooms were soft. The Scallops were simply pan-fried in butter, less than a minute per side and the entire dish topped off a few snips of Inoki mushrooms. Other variations you can try: Pumpkin and Preserved Lemon.

Thanks to Eleanor and Jess for this months challenge!

20 Comments

  1. Such glamorous food photography and the final risotto looks so simple yet elegant. Scrumptious in presentation and those pixs of the mushrooms is superb. Wonderful idea to use dashi stock so decedent. I feel the taste would be delicious. Yes I’m like you I don’t order pasta at restaurants since I feel I can make it at home so easily and usually better I think. Bravo!!! Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.
    .-= Audax Artifex´s last blog ..March 2010 Daring Cooks’ Risotto =-.

  2. When you posted that first pic in the forums, I immediately rushed out to look up dashi. I really enjoy it when that happens. :) Thanks for the new knowledge. :)

    This was very incredibly clever, and it looks and sounds wonderful. I’m with Ellie on the mushroom picture, too; that’s amazing!!
    .-= cuppy´s last blog ..Cheesesteak Sandwich Pocket =-.

  3. abercrombie

    I am a risottoholic, almost as much as I am a mushroom addict..

    This looks and sounds so sooooo delish!

    I wouldn’t usually order a risotto unless it were creamy (my only fuss when it comes to risotto’s) but this i would def give a try

  4. Wonderful photographs and a great idea for risotto. I agree completely with you – I never order risotto in a restaurant as I make a pretty good one myself and also because the likelihood of it being gluggy and/or flavourless. The use of dashi is interesting and I’m sure it certainly wasn’t dull! Well done.

  5. Lynnette

    i eat dashi broth and veggies for breakfast with a small bowl of brown rice for breakfast. I make the dashi broth ahead and slightly cook the veggies in it. Then add miso when i reheat. I love your version.

  6. Audax: Wow, thanks for the comment I really appreciate it!

    Ellie: Thanks ellie~ I think I just really wanted to use the mushrooms in something lol

    Fiona: I know what you mean… it’s always the seemingly simple dishes that trip you up.

    Cuppy: Fantastic, love knowing that people can learn from my posts! Thanks for the compliment :)

    FFichiban: Mmm mushrooms <3

    abercrombie: Haha to be honest I’d meant to put in some cheese as well, I just forgot to at the end!

    Emily: Thanks! It’s such a basic dish really, I think the ingredients used would have to be really out there for me to want to order it in a restaurant.

    Wic: Thank you!

    ap269: Thanks :)

    Lauren: Thanks Lauren!

    Asha@FSK: Definitely, it’s all about pushing yourself to meet the challenge I think.

    Lynnette: I was really surprised how easy it was to make dashi! The ingredients and the technique always scared me off slightly before, now I’m addicted.

    Miriam: I totally agree, I’ve skipped a few challenges unable to think of an idea but this idea just grabbed me this month!

    chef_d: Thank you :D

    Robert: Cheers Robert!

    Erushi: Thank you! I really wanted to get a light and bright feeling in these shots, trying to change up my style a little.

    bake in paris: Sawadee! Love seeing where our visitors are coming from :)

    penny: Thanks penny!

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