Experimental Wednesday: Three-mushroom Risotto, Japanese Style
In my normal life I am generally quite content and tend to become a creature of habits. But when I’m in the kitchen, I quite often challenge the status quo. My dad will probably disown me if he hears me saying this but I think I was Japanese in my previous life. Sure, there’s worse thing he could disown me for (smoking, wagging school and the list goes on) , but being born to a patriotic Chinese family, this is pretty high on the offending list. I mean if I was stuck on an island and had to eat only one cuisine for the rest of my life, it would have to be Japanese. But I am (almost) equally fond of Italian food, so maybe the reincarnation before my Japanese ninja past-life was an Italian peasant. Armed with such conflicting feelings about my hypothesised cultural heritage, when I opened up the pantry last night after a long day at work, I decided to indulge in some experimental infusion of Japanese and Italian. The outcome, is a three-mushroom risotto Japanese Style which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The key ingredients are:
Dry Porcini mushrooms – a small handful, soaked for 20 minutes in warm water and then drained
Dry Chanterelle mushrooms – a small handful, soaked for 20 minutes in warm water and then drained
Fresh Swiss button mushrooms – 4 to 5 heads
Risotto rice – 200gram
Dashi stock – 2 cups
White wine – 150ml
Toasted dried baby shrimps – 1 tablespoon
Nori flakes (Seaweed flakes) – a handful
Truffle oil (optional)
To conjure up this culturally ambiguous mess, heat up the frying pan with olive, throw in the risotto rice. Fry the rice until it turns opaque then pour in the wine. Once the liquid is fully absorbed, pour in the dashi stock one ladle at a time. Also turn the heat down to medium. Keep adding stock and stirring the risotto.
While the risotto is simmering away, toast the dried shrimps in a saucepan. It should take no more than 30 seconds for the shrimps to turn into a golden hue. Remove them from the stove immediate and the residue heat of the pan will keep them warm and crunchy until the risotto is ready.
How long does it take to cook the risotto? I am not really good at measuring the exact time but generally when I finish my second glass of wine, the risotto is at the point of al dente. And if you leave it until the third glass of wine, then you might as well eat baby food. Just before the risotto is ready, we want to add in the mushrooms in the last 5 minutes of the cooking process. You will know the mushrooms are ready when they start to change into a darker colour. Check and adjust consistency with stock while the mushrooms are soaking up all the creamy risotto liquid, as you want a fairly runny and almost soupy consistency.
Lastly, plate up and sprinkle on the toasted shrimps and nori flakes. And there you have yourself a little mongrel risotto. And of course, to mark this special moment, you can’t go wrong with just a few dollops of truffle oil. But who am I kidding, I would add truffle oil to plain old steamed rice. Oh wait, I have!