Saturday, April 10, 2010

Risotto with Prawn and Bacon

It's been a while since I experimented with new recipes. I've always been a big fan of paella and risotto. Maybe it's the Asian in me - rice is such a big part of my life. I've been wanting to cook a paella or risotto dish for a while but was not able to find the medium grain Arborio rice in Malaysian supermarkets. The Arborio rice has a high level of starch which absorbs many times its weight in liquid, resulting in a soft and creamy texture. So, on my last trip to Australia, I bought a pack of Riviana Arborio rice. To be honest, I was quite surprised at how easy it is to cook risotto. However, if you're looking for a quick dish, then this is not it as it requires a fairly long cooking time and constant stirring. If you have the time and patience, this dish is worth it. As with all recipes, you can substitute the ingredients according to your fancy.

Ingredients (serves 4-5)
2 tablespoon olive oil
30 gm butter
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
600 grams streaky bacon (or as much or as little as you want)
600 grams prawns, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper (again, as much or as little as you want)
2 cups Arborio rice
4 cups stock, simmered (you can use chicken or a combination of stock. Since I was cooking fresh prawns, I used the prawn shell and head to boil into about 1.5-2 cups of stock. I used chicken stock for the rest)
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Basil or Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large heavy based saucepan. Fry about 1/3 of the bacon until crispy and set aside. Note, since I used streaky bacon, it was not necessary to add oil as the bacon will ooze its own fat. Add a little olive oil and stir fry the prawns until it's pink. Remove and set aside.

Heat the rest of the olive oil and butter in the pan. Add the onions and stir fry for a few seconds. Then add the garlic and the remaining bacon and fry for about 3 minutes. Stir in the Arborio rice and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or so, until the rice slightly colours, stirring regularly. Add the white wine and simmer to absorb the liquid, again, stirring frequently (Note: this is a constant theme when cooking risotto!).

Begin adding stock, one cup at a time. I found it best to add the stock slowly, stirring well and allowing the rice to absorb the liquid, before continuing adding the stock. So, for one cup, it may take about 2-3 pours. Continue to do so until the you have finished adding all 4 cups of stock, making sure that you stir dilligently! You will see the arborio grow plumper as the rice grains absorb the flavourful liquid. After you have added all 4 cups of stock, taste the risotto. If the rice is still crunchy, you may need to add a little more water or stock until the rice is fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and basil/parsley. Dish out the risotto and add the crispy bacon and prawn. Enjoy the fruit of your labour!

I've eaten risotto at restaurants where the risotto is way too mushy and is served in a bed of starchy liquid. Personally, I prefer my risotto like this - you can see each plump and juicy individual grain.

Rice is born in water and must die in wine.
Italian Proverb


ev said...

when can you cook this for kev and me?? :D i've never wanted to try risotto only because it looks so mushy from what i've seen in photos and cooking show. yours doesn't look mushy so i'm game to try :)

Kess And Her Mama said...

Ev, No prob. Will invite you over the next time I try it. Only problem is will need a new supply of arborio rice :-)