Friday, September 3, 2010

Risotto with Prawns and Shitake Mushrooms

Now that I've become addicted to TV shows like Master Chef , Next Food Network Star and Top Chef, it dawns on me that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to food.

And I'm not the only foodie thinking this way - wondering about cooking the perfect egg or how to make pie crust without a recipe.

It seems, though, in the watching of many many episodes over the years, that the proper cooking of risotto is among the most difficult of dishes to master - and the easiest to mess up.

They call me Ishmael...

But I will not be daunted.


Because it seems to me risotto only flops when chefs don't give it enough time.

People, you can't hurry love.

Just ask Phil Collins.


Using ingredients I have on hand, I'm not only going to take Moby Dick Italian Risotto on, I'm going to give it a little twist by adding shitake mushrooms to the mix.

Italian people of the world, stand down!

I didn't have any porcinis in my pantry.

Forgive me the transgression...

(ps, you could easily substitute dried porcini mushrooms into this recipe. They would not only be authentic, they would be amazing)


The following are step by step instructions and photos to what turned out to be a magically fabulous finished product.

Soak one cup dried shitaki mushrooms

In two cups boiling water for 30 minutes

Squeeze the excess juice from the mushrooms, strain and reserve liquid.

Chop mushrooms. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a half cup white wine to a nice simmer and add three cloves minced garlic. Simmer for one minute.

*Disclaimer* the stick like entities in the wine pictured below is minced garlic. People, I never claimed to be photographer.

Add 1/2 pound medium large prawns to the simmering wine and garlic mixture and cook until the prawns are just pink.

Set aside. You will be adding the prawns, garlic, and wine to the risotto later.

Simmer 5 cups low sodium chicken stock in another pot. Add the shitaki liquid and mushrooms and keep nice and warm on an adjacent element to where you will be cooking the risotto.

Meanwhile, begin to saute 1/2 cup of finely diced white onion in 2 tbsp olive oil. Add one cup of Italian Arborio rice and toss with the onions a few times to coat well with oil. This helps the rice to absorb the cooking juices slowly.

Add a ladle or two of the warm stock.

Stir and make sure the risotto is completely covered with juices.

Reduce the heat to medium low keeping the stock at a gentle boil.

When the liquid has almost been absorbed, add two more ladles of stock to make sure rice is completely covered and gently stir. Keep repeating this process for about fifteen minutes or until you are down to your last ladle of stock.

Add the reserved prawn, garlic and wine mixture. Continue to stir and simmer until the liquid is almost absorbed.

Taste the rice for doneness. A traditional risotto is done when the grains are soft on the outside and slightly crunchy on the inside, but some people prefer the rice to be soft all the way through. Again, this is a matter of personal preference.

If the rice is not done to your liking, add the last ladel of stock and continue cooking.

When rice is at desired doneness, add 3/4 - 1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and 2 tbsp butter. (You could also do a half and half parmigiano and grated romano cheese. I used parmigiano because that's what I had on hand and it tunred out delicious.) Stir them in thoroughly and let the risotto continue to cook until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from the heat. Let the dish stand for at least 5-7 minutes to let the flavors marry.

Recipe works nicely if having a dinner party - fine if left to rest 20 minutes and served warm.

Taste and adjust seasonings adding salt if needed and freshly cracked black pepper.

Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly chopped Italian Parsley and enjoy!

A nice Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio goes great with this.

As with all things, the real magic is in believing in your ability to do the hard stuff and giving yourself the time to see it through.


For printable recipe click HERE


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  1. Ohh now that looks YUMMY I'll just exchange the stock. Is the recipe there ? lol DOh I didn't notice

  2. The fourth recipe photo threw me a little, trying to determine what those strands are, but this is a wonderful set of instructions, dear!

    What? No porcini mushrooms?!!! For shame! ;)

  3. CCL, It's at the end :-) You can print it off.

    Wayen, the strands are the minced garlic :-)

  4. DOH didn't go far enough thank you :)