Risotto Three Ways

Risotto had been on our list of things to make for some time, and a few months ago the slow-motion shots of a Venetian chef flipping risotto on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations finally compelled us to buy arborio rice.

Since then, we've had three very successful risotto endeavors.

Our first effort was a knockout taste-wise, but too ugly to stand alone in a blog post. (The internet can be cruel.) Then Sycamore chef Mike Odette let me borrow his risotto cookbook, which had great information and fun stories, along with delicious sounding recipes. A few notes:

  • “Risotto is a simple dish, with relatively few ingredients. Consequently, each element gets its share of the limelight and sparkles individually on your palate.” — ie. Use butter, homemade stock and real Italian cheese
  • Risotto doesn't like shortcuts. The stock must be added a cup at a time so it is slowly absorbed by each grain. “Continue the game of add, stir, and wait, until the rice is just slightly resistant to the bite.”
  • “Good raw materials. Simple cooking procedures. No unnecessary frills. That's what Italian cooking is all about.”

Before Michael left, we finished off the arborio rice with our highest quality risotto yet. Homemade stock, a whole stick of butter, saffron, shrimp and scallops, and real Parmesan Reggiano.

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Thai Purple Rice with Scallops and Coconut Milk Broth

When Michael and I competed in the university Iron Chef Battle Rice competition, we used brown basmati and red Himalayan, but there were a few other exotic varieties we didn’t put on our menu. We were curious to try them though, so we got some samples after the competition. One of these was Thai purple rice.

The rice, also called black sticky rice, is generally used with sweet flavor profiles, especially in desserts. It becomes sticky when cooked, and has a slight nutty flavor. I found a recipe for scallops and purple rice using lemongrass and coconut milk that sounded really good, but I didn’t execute very well. The broth came out really sweet because I was out of cilantro and didn’t add quite

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enough lime juice. I also might not have let the other flavors steep long enough in the coconut milk.

This was one of those times that I should have stuck to the recipe a little more carefully.

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