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How To Cook Risotto

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My Mac’s dictionary defines risotto as “an Italian dish of rice cooked in stock with other ingredients such as meat and vegetables.” For an Asian, that sounds like throwing everything in a rice cooker until everything is done. But it’s not quite that simple.

Asparagus, mint and lemon risotto
Asparagus, mint and lemon risotto

Risotto is a versatile dish as it can include meat or it can be a vegetarian dish. The broth can be chicken, meat or fish broth.

In the Venice episode of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain sampled the famous go risotto—a Venetian classic famous and revered for its simplicity and unpretentiousness.

“Go” refers to a variety of fish called, well… go. Small fish. Not expensive, not rare but, in fact, rather common. The fish are simmered whole without stirring and the broth is ladled into the rice. No fish meat goes into the risotto as the only role of the fish is to create the broth. The dish is reputedly incomparable.

Cooking risotto starts with choosing the right kind of rice. See, what distinguishes risotto from other rice dishes is its creamy texture and that is something that can be acquired with the use of starchy rice.

The Italians cook risotto with the short-grain arborio rice. The name arborio does not really refer to a rice variety but, rather, to a place in Italy where the rice is grown. In short, outside of Italy, it is known by other names. In Asia, the nearest equivalent is Japanese rice.

Speedy cooked the risotto in this post.

How To Cook Risotto: Simmering broth

There are only a few steps in cooking the basic risotto. But even before you start, make sure that your broth is simmering—not boiling, not warm, not lukewarm, not cool. You want it simmering.

How To Cook Risotto: Sauteeing garlic and onion

The first step is sautéing — garlic and onions, most often, in butter or olive oil or both, until fragrant.

How To Cook Risotto: Coating the rice grains with aromatic oil

The rice is added and cooked until every grain is coated with oil. White wine is poured and stirred in and the mixture is left to bubble until the wine has been absorbed.

How To Cook Risotto: Adding broth half a cup at a time

Then, the simmering broth is ladled into the rice, about half a cup each time.

How To Cook Risotto: Step-by-step

The rice is stirred often as it cooks in the broth, coaxing the starch out of each grain to make the mixture creamy. Then, another half cup of broth is added, the rice is stirred… the process is repeated until the rice is done — cooked through but still firm.

How To Cook Risotto: Adding Parmesan toward the end

Grated parmesan cheese is stirred in along with a little finely chopped parsley, the seasonings are adjusted and the risotto is drizzled with olive oil before serving. As far as I know, this is the basic risotto ai bianco, literally, white rice.

Risotto recipes you might want to try: