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.
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.
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).
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!
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
- 1 10cm piece of dried konbu
- 10-15g of Katsuo Flakes
- 1L of water
- Gently wipe the surface of the Konbu with a damp cloth to remove any pieces of dirt.
- 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.
- 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.
- As the stock comes to the boil dump in all of your Katsuo flakes and turn the heat off immediately.
- Let the Katsuo sink to the bottom of the pan, can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
- Once the Katsuo has sunk to the bottom, strain your stock discarding the Konbu and Katsuo.
- 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)
- 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)
- Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
- Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
- Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
- Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step. .
- Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.
- 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!