Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I cooked: Risotto ai Funghi

Just before The Unc came back from Germany, I was lamenting about how difficult it was to find risotto rice in KL, having looked in several major supermarkets*. I asked if he could bring a pack back and we could experiment cooking it in the kitchen. He bought a pack of Giuliano Tartufi Riso Carnaroli al Tartufo (approx €9), which is carnaroli rice with dried summer truffles (Tuber aestivum Vitt). Giuliano Tartufi is an Italian brand specialising in all things truffles. When I opened the pack of rice, the scent of truffles filled our kitchen and was absolutely heavenly.

Bits of heaven in our carnaroli

When it comes to picking your risotto rice, it boils down to personal preference. Choose from Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Padano, Roma, or Vialone Nano. Compared to normal rice that we Asians eat, these rice varieties have the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and hence producing a stickier product. Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are considered the best (and most expensive) varieties.

One of the important components in cooking a risotto is the stock. The risotto is to be cooked in the stock until a creamy consistency is obtained. You can either make your own stock or buy ready-made stock cubes/sachets. The stock may be meat, vegetable or fish based. We chose to make our own chicken stock from scratch as ready made stocks (especially the cheaper cube types) can sometimes be overly salty.

Making risotto is fairly straight forward but requires a lot of patience. And a strong hand for constant stirring during the cooking process. We decided to keep our risotto simple and just use oyster mushrooms, Parmesan and parsley for some colour. The risotto rice should be cooked til it is rich, creamy and al dente.

I guess it is this labour of love which makes the risotto taste so damn fine. Buon appetito!

Homemade Risotto Ai Funghi
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 - 40 minutes (does not include time for making stock)
Serves 4

350g carnaroli rice
1.5l of chicken stock
220g oyster mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp of olive oil
30g butter
4-5 shallots, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
40-45g Parmesan cheese
Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For chicken stock
2l cold water
2 chicken thighs
1 carrot, cut in thick chunks
1 onion, halved
Parsley, finely chopped

1. For the chicken stock, bring the water to the boil in a large pot and then add the chicken thighs and simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Add the carrot, onion and parsley and simmer for a further hour. Remember not to cut the vegetables too thinly as you do not want them to "mash up" in your stock. Strain and continue simmering while cooking the risotto.

2. In a large non-stick pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute the mushroom on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until cooked/softened. Season with salt, remove from heat and set aside.

3. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and the butter in the same pan on a medium heat, then add the shallots and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes until browned.

4. Add the carnaroli rice and stir the rice well, making sure that the grains are coated with the olive oil/butter until slightly translucent. This process is called tostatura. It helps the rice absorb the stock later.

5. Turn the heat down to medium low, and add enough stock to cover the risotto. Keep stirring the risotto constantly as stirring massages the starch molecules out of the rice, hence creating a rich, creamy texture.

Keep stirring and stirring

6. Allow the stock to be absorbed before adding more stock to the rice. Keep adding small amounts of stock to the rice until the rice is soft but still has a bite to it (al dente). The pack actually suggests cooking time of 20 minutes but for us to get to the al dente stage took about 30 minutes. Taste the risotto rice occasionally to check if it's ready. If you run out of stock before your rice is ready, you can add boiling water as a substitute for the stock.

7. When the rice is ready, add the cooked mushroom and Parmesan. Stir to mix the Parmesan well into the rice (the mantecatura process). Season with salt and remove from heat. Add the freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Here you go, a plate of creamy, oozy risotto ai funghi! Delizioso!

Cooked to perfection

*Since then I have managed to find arborio and carnaroli for sale at Village Grocer, Bangsar Village. Will definitely be cooking this again soon!


  1. even reading the procedure to cook this dish makes me feel exhausted! but the result does look and sound wonderful. i think i'd love to eat a whole pot of that :D

  2. Sean: We were very happy with the results. It's not that difficult to cook it, just a little more time consuming.

  3. Michelle: Oh really? Do you cook it often?

  4. Ohh, I love Risotto too! This is gorgeous!

  5. Looks like a very good first attempt, here's to more risotto in the future :-)

  6. yummay, u inspired me! haha. speaking from a girl who cook paella with arborio rice :D

  7. Zoe: When you have a free weekend, you can try making risotto at home. It's pretty straightforward. :)

  8. CnD's Daddy: Well, it's not my first time making it. But it was definitely the yummiest :)

  9. AugustDiners: My brother tried cooking paella with arborio before too, and he says it works! :P

  10. i prefer beef stock but hey thats just me.. and usually am way too lazy to make my own stock, just need to find a day when i can roast some beef bones and make a nice wholesome stock and try it with risotto.

    the risotto pack looks awesome with the truffle bits!

  11. MY gosh! you're such a great cook! can i sample your risotto soon.. ;)

  12. But you said it's hard to get risotto rice in KL :o

  13. Joe: Oh chicken is just easier to make stock since we can just buy 2 pieces of chicken and throw it in the pot.

  14. Ciki: Oh thanks *blushes* I'm sure you could cook it too :D

  15. Zoe: Oh I saw it at Village Grocer at Bangsar Village the other day. I'm sure there are other places selling it too, just not at the regular supermarkets that I frequent.

  16. When you will open ur own cafe? Sure I will " bong chan" :P

    Looks so yummy~

  17. Choi Yen: Hehe if I ever open a cafe, I will let you know. But it is very unlikely la cos no investors :P

  18. Zoe: Just to let you know, I saw arborio rice at Jaya Grocer in Empire. Should be easy for you to get it since you always frequent Empire. :D


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