The first time I had to wake up early this year (aside from catching my plane to Shanghai) was for a compulsory CPR refresher course at Red Cross, Milton. I was dreading it so much (due to not being able to sleep in, not because I hate CPR that much) that I started thinking about it before I even got back from China.
Anyhow, the morning came and I made it there on time and managed not to zombie through the entire course. During that time, I was brainstorming what I would eat for lunch once the course was finished.
Cooking for me is sometimes like a game. I have a bunch of fresh ingredients that 'need' to be used up so I try and envision dishes that include as many as possible. I HATE the idea of left-over bits of ingredients sitting in my fridge waiting to rot. Conversely, if I manage to think up some dish that includes everything left-over, I see it as a huge victory.
This time, I had bought some tofu and fresh shitake mushroom. At first, I just assumed I'd be cooking the tofu and mushroom together (both Asian ingredients) but this challenged me because I never used tofu before.
Suddenly, I came to the realization that I could actually use the mushroom SEPARATELY and figure out the tofu later on (which is OK because the tofu had a late expiration date). In the end, I went for a mushroom risotto (inspired by an episode of Jamie at Home that I watched on the plane).
Shitake Mushroom Risotto
Makes 2-3 servings
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- stock (amount varies); I used the left-over chicken and bean soup (after fishing out the larger chunks of chicken and vegetable) and some Chinese chicken stock
- 1 med-sized onion, chopped
- 100g fresh shitake mushrooms (about 6-7 heads)
- 50g grated parmesan
1. In a large saucepan/pot, heat some oil and brown the onion
2. Add the rice and stir it dry with the onion until it is coated with the moisture from the oil and onion3. Add enough stock to JUST cover the rice and lower the heat to a very gentle simmer
4. Once the stock is absorbed by the rice, add another ladle. Once that is absorbed, add another ladle. Make sure you're constantly stirring to prevent the bottom from burning. Keep going until the risotto is tender without being mushy. It should still have some bite in the center of each grain. This will take about 20-30min. In the meantime, you can prepare the mushroom.
5. Cut 1/2 the mushroom into thick shreds and pan fry with a generous amount of butter. Once this is tender, add it to your risotto and stir in.6. Just before your risotto is ready, pan fry a the remaining mushroom with butter. Leave them whole.7. When your risotto is ready, add a small knob of butter and stir it through.8. Add your parmesan cheese and stir it through.
9. Season with salt and black pepper.
10. To serve, dish out the risotto and top with a bit more cheese if desired. Serve with the shitake mushroom steaks and some vegetables.
This is my third time making risotto and I got the consistency of the rice just right. I guess it's third time lucky! I've actually never had fresh shitake mushroom before but the pan fried steaks were so juicy and tender and perfectly complimented the risotto. The risotto was creamy and cheesy with a mushroomy aroma. You can do this risotto with any combination of mushrooms but Jamie Oliver advises against using standard button mushrooms.