I found some local dried porcini in Pick n Pay and was given a few spectacular shiitake mushrooms by La Perla so thought I must make a little risotto.
The best way to make risotto is with a glass of wine in one hand and wooden spoon in the other and a good friend keeping you company while you stir.
This recipe will feed four comfortably, I halved it and made a portion for two.
- 400gms arborio rice (about 100gms per person)
- 20gms dried porcini mushrooms
- 125ml (half a cup) white wine
- about 150gms of shiitake mushrooms chopped (more or less)
- 2 litres of stock (about 500ml per 100gms of rice)
- 1 onion finely chopped
- a handful of grated parmesan or pecorino
- chopped parsley (optional)
- a good knob of butter and then another one for the end
how to make:
- soak the dried porcini in about a cup of boiling water and allow to rehydrate for about 5 – 10 minutes, reserving the liquid to form part of the stock
- make the stock incorporating the porcini water. Try and use the best possible stock you can find, homemade is best. I used a Thelma chicken stock, which I quite like, but if you can get your hands on the mushroom stock this is also very nice. The lack of a decent commercially available stock in South Africa is an ongoing irritation and I always buy up on trips overseas.
- melt the butter in a heavy bottom pan / or pot and fry the onion for a few minutes until soft.
- add the chopped up mushrooms (chop the rehydrated porcini quite fine) and fry for a few minutes until cooked.
- add the rice and stir through for a few minutes (this toasts the rice slightly giving it a nice nutty flavour)
- add the white wine and allow it to be completely absorbed
- add a ladle of hot stock at a time and stir continuously until it’s absorbed. Repeat this process until the risotto is cooked through but still al dente.
- when ready, remove from the heat and stir in another knob of butter (I used some porcini butter), the chopped parsley and the parmesan cheese
- allow to rest for about two minutes then serve.
A little ramble about shiitake mushrooms….and something I didn’t know. The Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes) is the first mushroom to have been cultivated by humans and originates from the Chinese province of Qingyuan. The traditional method of growing Shiitakes is from a grafted wood log. It’s quite a painstaking process where the log from an oak (or in Japan the shii tree) is inoculated with mycelium. The farmer then has to wait two to four years for the mycellium to spread sufficiently to produce mushrooms. This log will then go on to produce mushrooms for up to six years.
The modern techniques for producing shiitake have reduced the gap from inoculation to fruiting to seven weeks and its the second most important mushroom crop in the world. Up until a few years ago, shiitake mushrooms were not available in South Africa, so it’s really wonderful to find them more or less quite easily.