From curry, to sushi, to risotto, rice is used around the world. It is one of the most versatile carbohydrates and this has led to its use in a myriad of dishes. The various varieties of rice display drastically different characteristics when cooked so there is a type of rice for almost any of your culinary desires!
Risottos are usually made with a medium grain rice where the grains are only just over double as long as they are wide. When cooked properly on a hob or steamed, medium grain rice comes out very soft and fluffy and the cooked grains stick together so can be moulded. If the rice is not washed beforehand, the starch in it comes out during cooking and makes the water cloudy (or in the case of risotto, makes the final meal ultra creamy). I find that Arborio is the easiest variety of risotto rice to get hold of however, any medium or medium/short grain rice will normally work for making a risotto. Medium grain rice can also be used when making sushi as the grains clump making the sushi stick together.
Short grain rice is normally used in rice pudding and paella. The grains are so short that they are almost as long as they are wide (whereas long grain rice is almost five times as long as it is wide). The starchiness of short grain rice is what gives dishes their creaminess. Long grain rice is far less starchy than its shorter grained counterparts and the grains do not clump when cooking. As a result, it can be boiled easily and then just drained and served.
Rice is becoming more and more popular as large numbers of people are trying to avoid gluten. This has led to the more unusual types of rice becoming increasingly available. These include wild rices and Chinese black rice. Most ‘wild’ rice is actually cultivated but it is still possible to find speciality shops that will sell genuine wild rice. Brown rice is very popular at the moment as it undergoes less processing than white rice. It has a nuttier flavour and a slightly different texture however there are concerns about it as the rice bran (which gives the rice its colour) contains arsenic leading to some countries having regulations controlling the types of brown rice sold!
Risotto is a rather labour-intensive dish. It requires constant stirring (though I have found that it can be left for 30 seconds or so) to prevent it catching on the bottom of the pan and parts being overcooked while others are raw. It has a wonderful creamy texture which can be achieved without using any dairy at all so is perfect for those with lactose intolerance.
It is however delicious and is bound to wow anyone you cook it for – even yourself. The versatility of risotto is astounding. You can flavour it with almost anything. I usually use mushrooms and sometimes chicken though I have also made it with smoked salmon which surprisingly, works incredibly well!
Serves 3 Prep time 15 minutes Cooking time – 30 minutes
Cost per portion: around £1.10
200g Risotto rice
500ml stock (ideally mushroom but vegetable or chicken both work)
1 medium onion/half a large onion
50g grated fresh parmesan (or cheddar if you prefer the taste)
3 tbsp oil
2 tbsp double cream
Chop the mushrooms to your desired size – I tend to quarter them unless they are particularly big or small.
Add them to a large pan with half of the oil and a third of a cup of water (80ml) which will help stop them burning. Place over a medium heat for around 15 minutes.
Chop up the garlic and add the mushrooms after about 5 minutes.
While the mushrooms are cooking finely dice the onion and add it to another pan with the remaining oil.
Cook the onions until they are translucent – at this point they will start to get a bit sticky and come together while you stir them.
Drain the liquid off the mushrooms and keep it! I tend to get about a cup out of 500g mushrooms. Place the mushrooms off to one side
Add the rice to the pan with the onion and stir through.
Add the mushroom liquid and cook on a medium heat until it has all been absorbed by the rice. Make sure you keep stirring.
Add half the stock and keep cooking the risotto.
Once that has been absorbed slowly add the rest of the stock stirring after each addition.
If the rice still isn’t soft, just keep adding more water a bit a time and waiting for it to be absorbed until the rice is cooked.
Add the grated cheese and stir through.
For a super creamy risotto, you can add a small amount of double cream and stir it through at this point.
Add the mushrooms and return to the heat continuing to stir until the mushrooms are fully heated again.
Let me know if you try this at home, I love seeing things you guys cook. Give me a tag on Instagram @thatcookingthing. If you fancy treating yourself, why not try having a three course meal of risotto, beef lasagne and millionaire’s shortbread for dessert!
Have a good one and I’ll see you next week with a recipe for my orange and chocolate bread and butter pudding. It’s super creamy and perfect for a long winter night in!
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