Wednesday, August 25, 2010
For now, I am focusing on cooking a straightforward risotto and from there, anyone can create variations from it. Risotto rice can usually only be bought at the finer supermarkets here in Singapore, so you can forget about going to NTUC to look for it. Usually, I go for Arborio rice but you can choose other variations as well.
Unlike normal rice, risotto is not cooked in a rice cooker, but tediously created in a cooking pot, and requires a fair amount of work. To start off, sautee some onions in a pot until its translucent.
Add in the risotto rice and let it cook for a minute or two before adding the chicken stock. For most variations of risotto, chicken stock is preferred, but there's always the latitude to use other cooking broths to create more inspire and different types of risotto, but that's for another blog.
Here's where the difficult part begins, some chefs will recommend using cooked broth that is piping hot but I am fine with just broth of any temperature as I will usually cook my risotto in very high heat. Add in ladles worth of stock at a time just enough to cook the risotto in batches.
For every time you do this, the trick is to keep stirring the risotto vigorously in the pot. Again, it's been suggested to use a wooden spoon to prevent the rice from breaking up, but I prefer to use a big metal spoon to do the job. At the same time, shake the pot as you stir and keep adding more stock once the broth is absorbed by the rice each time.
You should keep repeating this process for about 20 mins, and watch the rice carefully as they will expand as they cook and absorb the liquid. Once you have cooked this for about 20 mins, taste the rice to see if they are cooked. Again, this can be tricky as if the rice is overcooked, it can turn very mushy. The rice should be just nicely firm but not too hard nor too mushy and the visually, it should look nicely expanded without breaking up or undercooked.
It is also here that any extra flavors or seasoning should be added. I normally like a simple dressing of tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil to add to a plain risotto. But with the intensive cooking of the liquids and the rice with onions, plain risotto can be just as delicious if the cooking process is done properly.