risotto

Kimchi Risotto

If you follow this blog you’d know that I’m a tad obsessed with two things: kimchi and risotto! As much as I love both, I must admit I had my reservations about combining these two distinct flavour elements into a single dish. Kimchi and rice; that was a no-brainer, but kimchi and cheese? I just couldn’t get my head around how that would actually taste, frankly it sounded like fusion-cooking gone mad!

For a long while I just dismissed the notion of a kimchi risotto as a misguided attempt to make spicy fermented cabbage palatable to the uninitiated, by giving it a conventional context; but like cream-cheese sushi, it risks becoming a cultural and culinary aberration, an oxymoron that contradicts the very essence of what it purports to be. If you like that sort of thing, great, but it’s simply not for me. Generally speaking, fusion for fusion-sake leaves me cold.

Then one day I found myself in a serious food-rut; we’ve all be there before, we all know what grim times ruts can be. As I stared blankly at the contents of my refrigerator, I desperately hoped for a spark of inspiration. Nothing, we were mere minutes away from ordering pizzas for dinner, again. Then my eyes eventually rested upon that omnipresent fridge staple – kimchi. So strong was my desire not to have pizza, I thought: “Oh, sod it”. I figured making kimchi risotto was a win/win situation; either it would be amazing and I would love it, or it would be deplorable and I’d feel justified in my initial scepticism. I don’t mind admitting that I hoped for the latter, I don’t like being wrong.

As hungry as I was, I tried my best to dislike it, but I couldn’t. It was fantastic! My initial concerns about the combination of kimchi and cheese were unfounded. In reality the richness of the cheese muted the bite of the kimchi; mellowing it just enough to allow for an appreciation of the subtle flavours that normally hide behind the spicy, sharp bravado of kimchi. To my surprise, fusion cuisine had done the unthinkable – it had made kimchi taste better.

Does this fusion revelation mean I’ll be tucking into a portion of cream-cheese & biltong maki any time soon? Don’t count on it, but there are plenty of fusion temptations out there; bacon ice-cream, anyone? Perhaps not.

RECIPE NOTE: The rice quantities for these recipes vary depending on the number of people you are feeding and whether you intend making the risotto as a main meal or an accompaniment. As a general rule of thumb, I use approx. 70-80ml of rice per person for a main meal and 50-60ml as an side dish. Generally, risotto recipes on my blog are based on 2 people eating a full portion.

Click here for the recipe

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White Risotto (Risotto Bianco)

This is risotto’s ground-zero; risotto stripped right back to it’s bare bones of rice, stock and cheese – the basics. Risotto Bianco is, in essence, the root-recipe for all risotto but don’t be fooled, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean that it isn’t incredibly tasty! In this risotto, the cheese is the true star of the show; without any other strong flavours compete with, the parmesan takes centre-stage and boy, does it shine!

A cheese lover’s dream come true, Risotto Bianco is blissfully velvety, coddlingly rich and packs a knock-out parmesan punch that leaves you wanting more. This is home cooked comfort food at it cheesy best.

IMG_5419 (480x640)With a dish this plain, it is always tempting to add additional flavour elements to the risotto itself. If it were my risotto I wouldn’t, as this would detract from the essence of the dish but of course I’m not the person making your risotto; it’s your kitchen and ultimately you are in charge! However, if you do decide to add ingredients to the recipe just don’t go overboard. Personally, if I wanted to bring some additional elements to the dish, I would rather serve the risotto as an accompaniment to a main meal. Perhaps pairing it with something like grilled chicken breasts (simply marinated in garlic, thyme and lemon), some rocket and oven-roasted cherry tomatoes.

Should you like to read more on my thoughts on risotto, please follow the link http://wp.me/P4JqRl-5z

RECIPE NOTE: The rice quantities for these recipes vary depending on the number of people you are feeding and whether you intend making the risotto as a main meal or an accompaniment. As a general rule of thumb, I use approx. 70-80ml of rice per person for a main meal and 50-60ml as an side dish. Generally, risotto recipes on my blog are based on 2 people eating a full portion.

Click here for the recipe

Red Wine Risotto (Risotto Rosso)

Now I adore red wine, really I do but it has taken me a long time to get my head around the mere idea of risotto rosso. It’s not that I was adverse to using wine in cooking; like most of us, I regularly add red wine to braises and stews but to add it to a risotto? It just seemed wrong. And its not just me, generally people do seem a bit put off by the notion of a red wine risotto, which is a shame as it really does make for a delicious meal. I know this because I eventually tried it for myself and discovered that I was wrong, oh so wrong. One evening, whilst making a risotto, I was momentarily gripped by a flash of culinary adventurism and reached for the red and not the white! In a splash there was no going back, I was having ruby colored risotto for dinner! It wasn’t without trepidation that I took my first bite, followed by my second, then third – all too soon I was licking the plate (sorry, over-share)! It was incredibly tasty and satisfying, everything you’d want from a risotto.

Risotto rosso works especially well as an accompaniment to most meat dishes, although I wouldn’t serve it with anything cooked in red wine as this would just be overkill. It is however, particularly good when served with a juicy steak and a rocket salad!

A word of advice though, the wine will be the prominent flavor in the risotto so you really should try to use a decent red when making it!

Should you like to read more on my thoughts on risotto, please follow the link http://wp.me/P4JqRl-5z

RECIPE NOTE: The rice quantities for these recipes vary depending on the number of people you are feeding and whether you intend making the risotto as a main meal or an accompaniment. As a general rule of thumb, I use approx. 70-80ml of rice per person for a main meal and 50-60ml as an side dish. Generally, risotto recipes on my blog are based on 2 people eating a full portion.

Click here for the recipe

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom RisottoIn my experience, when it comes to risotto most people’s frame of reference seems to be the omnipresent mushroom risotto. In fact, I would wager that precious few have ever tired any other sort of risotto and who could blame them – mushroom risotto is utterly delicious! Given its popularity, it is tempting to dismiss mushroom risotto as de rigueur but don’t. It is for good reason that this risotto remains an enduring classic and, as a bonafide fungi-fiend, I would rate it as perhaps my all time favorite mushroom dish.

Should you like to read more on my thoughts on risotto, please follow the link http://wp.me/P4JqRl-5z

RECIPE NOTE: The rice quantities for these recipes vary depending on the number of people you are feeding and whether you intend making the risotto as a main meal or an accompaniment. As a general rule of thumb, I use approx. 70-80ml of rice per person for a main meal and 50-60ml as an side dish. Generally, risotto recipes on my blog are based on 2 people eating a full portion.

Click here for the recipe