Thursday, March 8, 2012

Creamy Saffron Risotto with Seared Scallops

I try to cook a variety of food on a daily basis. It's a thrill to eat your way around the world at home. Chinese on a Monday, Spanish on a Wednesday or, Japanese on a Sunday. Given enough notice, ours is a veritable restaurant kitchen churning out dishes from all over the globe. I have been known to be a short order cook like my Dad the Iron Chef.

I also enjoy doing theme dinners on special occasions. Last year, we did a Japanese dinner for my sister-in-law's birthday and an American feast of steak and seafood for my brother's birthday. Just last January, I hosted a Filipino feast for my birthday dinner.

I have not tried serving saffron risotto family style, though. I believe this Italian dish is meant to be shared with someone special on a romantic dinner at home. Pair it with a refreshing cold Chardonnay and a simple summer salad and you'll earn a dozen love points for sure.

But I don't have anyone to impress so this will be something I'd do on a whim when I'm all alone cooking for myself. More for me or maybe a practice run for when I do have someone to cook for. Wink, wink!

Making risotto is a bit of a challenge for the novice cook. I believe it all boils down to patience and following the recipe to the letter. Just put a spin on it when you have already mastered the technique.

I'm always reminded of what Wolfgang Puck once said, "Risotto must be cooked just so. Make it too runny and it's a pudding. Make it dry and it's rice pilaf."

Saffron Risotto
Serves 2

1 cup arborio rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
pinch of saffron threads
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a saucepan, place stock and bring to a boil. Let simmer until ready to use.
  2. Heat olive oil and saute garlic and onion.
  3. Add arborio rice and saffron threads.
  4. Stir so that every grain is coated in oil.
  5. Add the white wine and let rice absorb all the liquid.
  6. Add the stock a ladle at a time while stirring rice.
  7. Keep adding stock till all of it is used up and the rice is cooked with a little bite.
  8. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Transfer the risotto to a serving plate and top with the seared scallops.
  11. Serve with the steamed asparagus.
Seared Scallops

6 pcs Pacific scallops
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat the butter and olive in a heavy skillet.
  2. Saute garlic till fragrant.
  3. Add scallops. Sear. (Don't touch for a full 2 minutes before turning)
  4. Season to taste.

For a touch of green: a bunch of steamed asparagus spears or broccoli florets

Photo courtesy of Mommy Cafe.

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