Thursday, March 08, 2007

Risotto: With Coriander. Cumin Confiscated.

Laura on Cardamom Frangrance.jpg
Laura on Risotto-3.jpg
Photos: Christopher Brunn
Laura and I cooked some rather creamy (from olive oil and starch) risotto tonight over a nicely chilled bottle of white Famega Vinho Verde (2006). I had been expecting more effervescence from the wine, but was quite pleased at how I tasted just a hint of sweetness, how easily it went down and how it made the cooking time pass seamlessly (really, conversing with Laura was really the key to the seamlessness). A quarter of the bottle went in the risotto.

Without any veg stock, I started a pot of water simmering. We could use some of the spices I just brought from India for flavor instead. My whole cumin seeds didn't make it. Still in sight of the baggage carousels in the international terminal at O'Hare aiprort, a gloved USDA agent delicately poured my bag of cumin onto a white tissue on top of a Customs inspection table. Among the cumin, they found the seed of another plant we don't want here.

Meanwhile, Laura and I sautéed as much Arborio rice as we thought four of us (thinking and hoping leftovers) could eat in enough olive oil to coat the pan, stirring. Crush up some coriander seeds and green cardamom in a mortar and toss in to the olive oil, too. (Better yet, sautée in yet another pan to top each serving with; you'll smell the amazing fragrance and it'll remind me of the sautéed oil and spice mix drizzled on top of homemade chutneys in India.) When the rice was well coated and began to become translucent, we added the wine and waited for it to absorb while crumbling in a handful of curry leaves. Risotto requires near constant stirring to keep from sticking and burning.

When only traces of liquid remained, we added hot water from the pot. Add enough so when it's stirred in, the rice is in a shallow amount. Mushrooms work well here, and we rehydrated a dried sliced variety in the simmering water - straining with a small hand-held sieve and adding them back to the pot when adding liquid to the rice (sautée fresh mushrooms if using instead of dried).

Repeat adding hot liquid many times, each time stirring and waiting for it to be absorbed until the rice is very tender and creamy. Stir in enough olive oil and plenty of salt (unless you're using a well-salted veg stock). Near the end, stir in the mushrooms with summer savory and basil - or whichever herbs you like, rubbing them between your fingers to bring out their aromas if they're dried. Finish with freshly ground black pepper. Serve in Bambu bowls if you're lucky enough to have some. (Thanks to Dan for them as my last birthday present; perhaps he'll sell them in his nice new store.)


Anonymous Ethan said...

Interesting recipe. I am gearing up to make asparagus risotto, so this got me in the mood.

On a technical note, I'd personally prefer to have an ingredient list up front so I can scan through it and see what I'd need to pick up from the store. Otherwise the recipe reads like a "word problem" in math. 3+3=? is easier to parse than "Joe had three stalks of asparagus, and while he had other friends, he went to go see Jane, who was leaving to catch the opera, and suggested that Joe see her friend Jack. Joe did, and Jack had some extra asparagus laying around and asked Joe if he would like to have three more stalks. Joe accepted Jack's offer. How many stalks of asparagus does Joe have?"

Not dissing your writing, but. :-)

9:11 AM  

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