Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seafood risotto sans the seafood

While it tasted delicious, there’s no getting away from claggy seafood risotto that doesn’t have much seafood in it.

Seafood risotto sans the seafood

Did you ever notice how Masterchef contestants almost never make risotto? That’s because it’s so easy to stuff up. I love making risotto. It’s so simple and rustic, and despite the Emperor’s comments to the contrary, I find stirring a risotto for 15 minutes therapeutic, rather than boring. I’ve made risottos many times, and as long as the rice was cooked and it tasted nice, it never bothered me whether it was right or not. You know, cooked the right way, had the right consistency. Then I saw ‘Jamie does Venice’ on TV last week. I love Jamie Oliver; I’ve got a few of his cookbooks, read his column and recipes in delicious. and follow him on Twitter.

But watching his Venice episode of ‘Jamie does…’ enlightened me about risotto, and not in a good way. Or rather, it did, but it made me realise that I wasn’t cooking it properly. Firstly, Jamie, the Venetian ‘risotto king’ he visited, and most other cook books say that risotto should only take 15-18 minutes to cook – and I mean once the cooking of the rice gets going, not from beginning to end. I always think that my risottos aren’t done in less than 20-25 minutes. That means my risotto must be either overcooked or I don’t have the heat up high enough; it’s probably a combination of both. And then there’s the consistency. Despite my best efforts my risottos always end up claggy. Like Clag glue. I guess that’s where the term claggy comes from! But Jamie had a great simile for what consistency risotto should be like. He described risotto as having the consistency of molten lava – ‘like Vesuvius oozing out’.

Seafood risotto in The Silver Spoon
That’s a great description. But my last attempt at risotto certainly wasn’t anything like oozing Vesuvius. Admittedly, I made this seafood risotto from The Silver Spoon before I saw Jamie’s helpful tips. It’s a Saturday at home, looking at what to make for a night in. I suggest risotto. The Emperor likes risotto, but gets bored of my favourites, porcini mushroom or leek and asparagus. Flicking through The Silver Spoon I come across seafood risotto – looks simple enough. Having done our food shop already at our regular supermarket, we decided to visit the Woolworth’s in the city, where we have to go anyway to pick up a new Apple Mac Mini. Our old one was electrocuted.

My friends know my opinion of my local Woolworths – it’s akin to a Communist Soviet-era supermarket, with a small variety of products and an even smaller variety of brands for each product from which to choose. Woolworths’ own Select brand I refuse to buy – they’re like the State-sanctioned products you imagine Soviets or people in East Berlin having to buy. So I was therefore not very surprised to find that the only seafood in the city Woolworths available to use in my seafood risotto was prawns. 

Seafood risotto sans the seafood
I bought them, only to find when I got home that prawns are about the only seafood not in The Silver Spoon’s recipe. So it now became prawn risotto. But while it tasted pretty nice, this risotto was a tragedy. Not only was there no seafood to speak of, I followed the recipe and put the prawns – or ‘seafood’ – in at the beginning of the cooking process. So you can imagine how rubbery and tough the prawns were at the end. And of course, Clag glue springs to mind when I think of consistency. But that’s why I have Jamie to learn from. The Emperor is keen for me to make this again, so watch this space.

1 comment:

  1. I always judge a supermarket on whether it stocks the packets of Strawberry Freddo Frogs, so it made me giggle about your comparison of Woolies to Soviet supermarkets. I shall borrow that from now on, although my criteria for proclaiming a supermarket 'Soviet' is rather thinner than yours.